Vitalik Buterin: zk-SNARKS Will Help Ethereum (ETH) Scale To 500 tx/s

Both Ethereum and Bitcoin been grappling with scalability on their respective networks, with Ethereum's founder believing the solution will come from Zcash's zk-SNARKS technology. This implementation can see Ethereum's throughput increase from 15 tx/s to 500 tx/s.


Both Ethereum and Bitcoin been grappling with scalability on their respective networks, with Ethereum’s founder believing the solution will come from Zcash’s zk-SNARKS technology. This implementation can see Ethereum’s throughput increase from 15 tx/s to 500 tx/s.

Scaling the blockchain

Ethereum founder, Vitalik Buterin, recently detailed how the platform’s team can use a borrowed technological innovation to scale the network without the need to use second-layer solutions.

The proposal could see Ethereum’s transaction throughput soar by about 3,200 percent if successfully implemented.

Buterin recently posted on the Ethereum research forum that it is possible for Ethereum to use privacy-centric Zcash (ZEC)’s innovative technology to “mass-validate” Ethereum transactions.

The technology Buterin is referring to is called zk-SNARKS, which works by allowing relaying nodes to “verify” that a given computation is correct without the need to participate in executing it.

According to him, using the zk-SNARKS protocol is a great way to prove the validity of transactions, compressing great amounts of data and keeps all transactions on-chain while reducing computational overhead.

He explained his assertion, saying:

“A relayer takes a set of operations from transactors, and combines them all into a transaction and makes a ZK-SNARK to prove the validity, and publishes the ZK-SNARK and the transaction data in a highly compressed form to the blockchain. A relayer gets rewarded for this by transaction fees from transactors.”

From 15 tx/s to 500 tx/s

Buterin’s proposal has attracted a lot of attention from the Ethereum community, and it is easy to see why.

In his view, adopting and integrating the zk-SNARKS technology could see Ethereum go on to process up to 500 transactions per second, a huge upgrade from today’s throughput of about 15 transactions per second.

The jump in throughput will in all likelihood be even higher once second-layer scaling options like Plasma come into effect upon launch.

Second-layer solutions for the Ethereum network have been in the works for some time now and are expected to help move the majority of ETH transactions off-chain.

Off-chain solutions are meant to increase network scalability, reducing congestion and in effect lowering transaction costs and Ethereum plans to implement both the borrowed technology from Zcash alongside the second-layer techniques as the network grows in the future.

Why Ethereum needs to scale

Ethereum has struggled to scale over the past few years, experiencing numerous instances of network congestion.

The hugely successful blockchain-based game CryptoKitties perhaps best illustrates why Buterin and team want to see the network’s scalability improved.

CryptoKitties’ popularity was directly responsible for an initial coin offering (ICO) that had planned to launch on the Ethereum network having to pull the plug on those plans, citing network congestion.

In December 2017, the popular game was responsible for almost crippling the system after seeing its daily users skyrocket to 14,000.

Finding scaling solutions is the best avenue through which Ethereum can stay competitive, and avoid falling to the many Ethereum killers in the market vying for the #2 cryptocurrency spot.

It is also crucial that the network remains stable and highly scalable for it to support the numbers necessary to achieve global adoption. At the moment, many Ethereum- based dApps are struggling, with some opting to abandon Ethereum for newer, more robust and scalable blockchain platforms.

The latest desire to adopt the zero-knowledge proofs to scale Ethereum is similar to the “Project Alchemy” initiative that sought to bring anonymity to Ethereum smart contracts.

It remains to be seen whether the current proposal will be taken up or not, however, it is clear that the Ethereum project needs to find a scaling solution fast if it wants to survive in this competitive market.

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