Ethereum Scaling Solution zkSync Unveils Latest Prover Tech ‘Boojum’

zkSync’s new prover plummets transaction time and the amount of expensive hardware needed for everyday users to help secure the network.

By Liam J. Kelly

3 min read

zkSync is taking yet another step to decentralize.

Named after a mythical creature found in Lewis Carroll’s poem ‘The Hunting of the Snark,’ the team behind zkSync has launched the latest upgrade to the speedy layer-2 network.

The launch is in so-called mainnet shadow mode, per the team, as part of the launch's phased rollout. This mode is a testing zone that runs in parallel to the mainnet.

zkSync is a novel scaling solution for Ethereum and one of the few that use zero-knowledge (zk) rollups to do so. Rollups come in two varieties: zk and optimistic. Both batch transactions off of the mainnet, roll them up into even smaller bundles, then those bundles are compressed into a proof, and settled on Ethereum.

Part of that process involves a prover. This piece of technology is what does the compressing and packing of all those transactions. It's the cryptographic equivalent of a trash compactor, except it's not trash but potentially thousands of dollars in crypto activity.

Given the high computing power needed to generate those proofs, however, the barrier for users to participate is quite high.

The latest upgrade will address precisely this.

Called Boojum, which, per Carroll, is the most dangerous variety of Snark (itself a fictionalized creature), the tech will lower the hardware barrier to help secure zkSync.

The new prover can be operated with as little as 8 gigabytes of hardware, whereas the average prover demands roughly 500 gigabytes on average, said zkSync CEO Alex Gluchowski.

“So far, we've seen the benchmark competitors indicating something like north of 500 gigabytes of RAM for a prover,” he told Decrypt. “And as you can only run it on the cloud, it's not ready for this [wide adoption]. Our prover requires only eight gigabytes of GPU RAM and it can run on GPUs that are compatible with gaming computers.”

Along with lowering the hardware demands, Boojum is also doing all its transaction compressing for much cheaper, too. Cutting costs here is crucial, even if it's only pennies.

“Just because a single transaction costs $1 to produce, or even 10 cents, or even less than that, getting through hundreds of thousands of transactions per second would mean massive expanding, and you will probably not have enough of the hardware in the vulnerable clusters to produce and sustain this load,” said Gluchowski.

Instead of several large data centers supporting a blockchain network, especially one executing such taxing computations as generating cryptographic proofs, the upgraded prover will make it accessible to anyone.

Just like miners on Bitcoin and validators on Ethereum are paid for securing their networks, so too would provers on zkSync, he said.

The zkSync CEO even argued that it could be a viable way to repurpose the mining industry.

“I personally don't think the proof of work will be a sustainable source of business,” he told Decrypt. “They will have to shift to something that actually provides normally redundant value, not like waste kind of work. Actually like doing some useful work.”

With this step in the decentralization step executed, Gluchowski said that the next step is to decentralize zkSync’s sequencer. This piece of a blockchain is responsible for ordering transactions in each block.

Executing this step also suggests a token launch in the future, he told Decrypt.

“When you decentralized the sequencer, you will need some way to permissionlessly verify transactions,” said Gluchowski.

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