zkSync Era opens zkEVM protocol to the public

Today marks a big milestone for zkSync Era and Ethereum: the gates to the world’s first zkEVM Mainnet are now open in a permissionless manner for everyone to use. We’ve completed robust testing, multiple tier-1 security audits, public contests, and bug bounties. We’ve added independent monitoring and risk mitigation mechanisms. Now developers, projects, and users can build on and bridge funds to experience the power of zkEVM.

Never forget why we’re here

Scaling Ethereum isn’t about transaction throughput, costs, or user experience — it’s a means to an end, but not the goal itself. We’re scaling freedom: trustless, barrierless, permissionless economic cooperation.zkSync was founded because we love freedom. We’re convinced that the single most impactful thing we can do to make the world better today is to increase people’s freedom. More freedom is the key to eliminating poverty, more wealth, more fun and creativity, faster scientific progress, and less injustice brought on by corruption and oppression.

Cryptography is the most important technology protecting the world’s freedom today — because it’s the only protection that a single individual can have against mighty adversaries. Cryptography led to permissionless blockchains which made radical self-sovereignty possible for anyone, for the first time in history.
There’s one big caveat: not everyone can access it yet.

The innate values of crypto will only succeed with its mass adoption; when blockchains meet the demands of millions of users. But trustlessness — the very same thing that makes blockchains so valuable — makes them very hard to scale. The principle “don’t trust, verify” means that every node must verify every single transaction on the network.

But how can a single server possibly verify all of the transactions on the Internet? Turns out it can — with some magic.
Enter succinct zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs: the only protocol capable of enforcing the integrity of arbitrarily large computations, verifiable by anyone with no more than the power of a smartphone.

Four years ago, we understood that ZK technology would be the key to mass adoption. It became our mission, and the team got to work. First, we launched zkSync Lite; a simple ZK-rollup for payments that has now been live on Mainnet since December 2020.
We were just warming up.

Two years later, we introduced the term “zkEVM” and our vision for it. The idea of scaling Ethereum’s smart contracts without compromising on security, decentralization, cost or performance was so powerful that it soon turned into the “holy grail of scaling”; but it also seemed so complex that many experts regarded it as a theoretical concept years away from being functional.
But we quietly kept on building.

Today, the dream we had four years ago comes true: for the first time, a zkEVM is now live and open to everyone on Mainnet with zkSync Era.
Move fast — but never cut corners
Security is hard. Despite investing significant time and money into it — which should be non-negotiable — bugs can remain, especially in the early days.

We have spent over a year and millions of dollars ($3.8 million to be exact) testing and auditing all components of zkSync Era, and at this point in time we are confident it is secure enough to open to the public.
On the one hand, there is a lot of anticipation around zkEVMs, and if we don’t move fast to change the status quo, we will face a setback with adoption before crypto reaches escape velocity. On the other hand, any security incident can not only jeopardize user assets, but most importantly, it can severely undermine people’s trust.

See more: Shifting economic changes impacting Latin America through remittances

So when is the right time to launch? We believe the time is now. Here’s why.

Before we launched zkSync Era we had to be confident we had done everything to secure the system. We took our time and slowly and very carefully rolled out our technology. We have spent over a year and millions of dollars ($3.8 million to be exact) testing and auditing all components of zkSync Era, and at this point in time we are confident it is secure enough to open to the public.
We have yet to witness a security approach in the scaling space that is as prolonged and comprehensive as ours:

  • 7 independent security audits–and counting–with tier-1 firms such as OpenZeppelin
  • 3 internal audits
  • 2 public security contests
  • Open-ended bug bounty program
  • Open-sourcing zkSync Era code
  • Running testnet since February 2022 and Mainnet since October 2022

Beyond security preparation, the best way to secure the protocol is to have it battle-tested in a live production environment over time, and that starts now. zkSync Era will remain in Alpha while we monitor the system with increased usage and TVL. We’ve also added independent monitoring and risk mitigation mechanisms, which will be kept until we lift the Alpha label:

  • Delaying withdrawals and closely monitoring for anomalies
  • Permissioning ZK proof submission
  • Continuously monitoring the system for vulnerabilities
  • Running additional security audits and bug bounties
  • Similar to zkSync Lite, we will create a security council once the system matures to allow for emergency protocol upgrades via the zkSync Security Council

While we have built and shipped the system, our work is far from over. Security improvements will never end. Security is not about checking boxes, it is a continuous state of mind.
Off the beaten track — forward-looking by design
zkSync Era’s zkEVM launching on Mainnet today is designed to be future-proof, not backward-looking. Our team has made deliberate design choices that will empower builders to tap into features that will enable cheap privacy, uncapped growth, complex use cases, and a magical user experience to fuel mass adoption.
Here are a few big highlights of zkSync Era unique architecture:
1. Native Account Abstraction Amazing UX is a must for mass adoption, and it’s not conceivable without native account abstraction. While EIP-4337 is a big step in the right direction for Ethereum, it’s not enough.Here is why:

  • It introduces a dependency on 3rd party intermediaries;
  • Crucially, it does not work for the majority of Ethereum users (because most accounts are EOAs).

zkSync Era, on the other hand, has had native account abstraction from day one, which solves both of these problems. For example, any account on Era can pay fees in any tokens or even transact with zero fees on protocols willing to subsidize usage.
Learn more about native account abstraction on zkSync Era

2. Powerful LLVM CompilerYou can emulate an 8-bit video gaming console on a MacBook Pro — but can you run MacOS on an 8-bit console? To unlock the full future potential, one must design for performance first. In our case, it means optimizing Era’s internal virtual machine for the highest ZK prover performance, not for EVM-equivalence. But this should not lead to a worse developer experience.
On Era, developers don’t need to rewrite the code in a new language or use different tooling. To achieve this, we invested heavily in building the first LLVM-based compiler for EVM languages (Solidity, Vyper, Yul). LLVM is the world’s most mature compiler stack and will bring massive performance and developer experience improvements into the ecosystem.

3. Data CompressionData availability is the most scarce resource for all rollups and will be the most significant part of the transaction cost. Era is unique across existing zkEVM projects in addressing this problem by publishing state diffs instead of transaction inputs. This enables many upsides, including: 1) data compression, 2) much more frequent oracle updates, 3) cheap privacy, and what we’re most excited about: 4) seamless off-chain storage extension such as zkPorter.

4. HyperscalabilityAll of these features along with our comprehensive decentralization roadmap are important building blocks for Hyperscalability: our long-term vision of accelerating the mass adoption of crypto with the limitless Internet of ZK-powered Hyperchains on Ethereum. But that’s a story for another time.