Vitalik Buterin Says Zk-Snarks Could Scale Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin

A form of cryptography pioneered by zcash might help scale ethereum, the founder of the platform Vitalik Buterin said on a research forum Saturday. Named zk-snarks, Buterin wrote that by using the tech, ethereum can potentially scale “by a huge amount,” up to 500 transactions per second, without relying on layer-two scaling solutions, such as Plasma or Raiden. As detailed by CoinDesk, zk-snarks allow for large batches of information to be compressed into so-called succinct proofs, which remain the same size regardless of the amount of inputs.

Buterin wrote:

“We can actually scale asset transfer transactions on ethereum by a huge amount, without using layer 2s that introduce liveness assumptions (eg. channels, plasma), by using zk-SNARKs to mass-validate transactions.”

Continuing, Buterin describes a method that includes a “relayer” node, a kind of computer that performs the task of aggregating transactions in exchange for transaction fees.

“Anyone can be a relayer; there is no assumption of even an untrusted special ‘operator’ existing,” Buterin added.

As a result, he estimated that such a setup could lead to gains of “~24x for ETH transactions and ~50x for ERC-20 transfers.”

The proposal comes at a time when pressure is mounting on ethereum researchers to find ways to increase the transaction capacity of the platform. For example, a tweet by Parity communications officer Afri Schoedon on Friday urged developers to “stop deploying dapps to ethereum. We are running at capacity.”

In response, Buterin tweeted that zk-snark scaling solutions might alleviate the pressure faced by the ethereum blockchain.