Efforts to scale ethereum, the world’s second-largest blockchain, are growing more varied as one much-anticipated solution encounters pitfalls amid its continued development.
At the forefront of this transition has been plasma, a concept widely heralded as ethereum’s best bet for short-term scaling. Already, researchers behind the tech have built five distinct versions of the protocol – but within these multiple iterations, there’s evidence that work isn’t proceeding as originally hoped, with little actionable code being put together well over a year since its inception.
As plasma slows, however, attention is being drawn to zk-snarks – a form of cryptography pioneered by privacy-centric cryptocurrency zcash – as another path forward. In fact, startups are already embracing the tech, which allows developers to aggregate transactions into batches, as they look to scale the network amid other efforts to expand, upgrade and grow ethereum.
For example, prediction market platform Gnosis is exploring the use of zk-snarks to underpin a decentralized exchange, in what is known as a “snapp” (snark dapp). Pseudonymous developer “barrywhitehat” has also used the technology to create “roll-up,” another snapp that can potentially be applied to ethereum scaling more broadly.
Vitalik Buterin, ethereum’s creator, has even written about the potential of such an approach, stating that it could be applied to achieve 500 transactions a second in the short-term.
That’s notable because, while progress toward ethereum’s longer term, high-performance rewrite – Serenity (sometimes called Shasper and ethereum 2.0) – is continuing to proceed, developers are hinting the switch is still two years away. As such, developers are looking to more immediate options to cope with an increase in the number of users on the network.
Indeed, at Devcon4 – ethereum’s annual developer conference – there was a palpable sense of excitement around zk-snark...