Speaking during ETHSeoul on Friday evening, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin predicted that ZK-Rollups will beat Optimistic Rollups in Ethereum's Layer 2 scaling wars.
At the event, Buterin stressed that while Optimistic Rollups are more mature, the fundamentals of the Zero-knowledge Rollup technology will allow it to supersede Optimistic Rollups in the long run.
Optimistic and ZK-Rollups are the most widely adopted Layer 2 solutions designed to scale Ethereum with off-chain computation while still retaining the security of the main blockchain. There are differences, though, in the architecture of these solutions and the level of security they provide.
Buterin noted that ZK-Rollups are faster when moving funds to and from the mainnet, which may lead to wider adoption of them.
“My opinion is that in the longer term, ZK-Rollups are eventually going to beat Optimistic Rollups because they have these fundamental advantages like you don't need to have a seven-day withdrawal period,” Buterin said. “In more than 10 years from now or even more, I expect the Rollups to basically be all ZK.”
Buterin acknowledged, however, that ZK-Rollups have yet to mature and are currently hard to build on. “So at the same time, the ZK technology is just hard to build. There are a lot of mental challenges especially in doing all of this stuff safely and making sure all of the circuits are correct. Optimistic rollup technology is just more mature," he said.
While ZK-Rollups are faster, one thing that ZK-Rollups lack is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), making them hard to run decentralized applications like DeFi protocols. The EVM is the main processing unit on the Ethereum blockchain for decentralized applications.
But this may change soon since EVM compatibility for ZK-Rollups is in the works. Layer 2 projects like Scroll, zkSync and Polygon have announced plans to introduce a compute environment called zk-EVM that will allow ZK-Rollups to independently run all types of general-purpose smart contracts.
Buterin added, "We've actually been starting to see zk-EVM implementations that are almost ready to scale with Ethereum transactions, which is amazing."
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