Guide to Zircuit, a Game-Changing EVM-Compatible ZK-Rollup

A tweet by @pilipull12 describing Zircuit as a groundbreaking EVM-compatible ZK-rollup built on Bedrock, on an orange background.

Zircuit’s trailblazing L2 research has led to the development of an EVM-compatible ZK-rollup that allows faster transactions, lower fees, and higher security.

In this quick guide, you’ll learn about Zircuit’s core features, transaction flow, and key differentiators, including circuit decomposition and security at the sequencer level.

Before diving into the specifics of Zircuit, here’s a short refresher on ZK-rollups and their pros and cons.

Quick Overview: What Are ZK-Rollups?

Zero-knowledge rollups, or ZK-rollups, are L2 scaling solutions designed to increase Ethereum’s transaction throughput by moving computation and state-storage off-chain.

They’re called “rollups” because they roll up (i.e., bundle) a set of transactions, process them off-chain, and only submit a summary representing all the batched transactions to the mainnet.

In addition to this summary, ZK-rollup nodes submit a validity proof confirming the veracity of the off-chain transactions. The validity proof is verified by a smart contract deployed on the L1 chain.

Simply put, ZK-rollups reduce the amount of data that needs to be processed and stored on the Ethereum network while maintaining security. Other benefits of this scaling solution include:

  • Faster transactions with lower fees by bundling multiple transactions into a single mainnet entry
  • Trustlessness since they rely on cryptographic mechanisms for security
  • Increased privacy due to zero-knowledge cryptography keeping transaction data private
  • No delays when withdrawing funds, unlike with optimistic rollups

However, zero-knowledge rollups also have drawbacks, including:

  • Limited compatibility with EVM, requiring developers to learn other coding languages and frameworks
  • Substantial computational costs that may result in increased fees
  • Centralization concerns since validity proofs require specialized hardware that can handle their computational complexity and some networks use a single node as the sequencer

Zircuit’s pioneering research into rollup security tooling, rollup compression, and scaling cryptography, among other topics, has allowed it to overcome these downsides.

To understand how, let’s explore Zircuit’s core features and transaction flow.

Zircuit’s Core Features

The Zircuit team combined optimistic infrastructure with zero-knowledge proofs to get the best of both worlds and improve performance and security.

As mentioned, Zircuit overcomes the drawbacks associated with zero-knowledge rollups. And, while it also uses optimistic infrastructure, it doesn’t require a challenge period for withdrawals. See? The best of both worlds!

Here are the key features that make it possible.

1. Hybrid Architecture

Zircuit describes its hybrid approach as a combination of zero-knowledge proofs and battle-tested infrastructure.

By “battle-tested infrastructure” they mean Optimism’s Bedrock, the leading rollup development framework they built Zircuit on.

This framework improved on its predecessor by optimizing batch compression, lowering fees, using Ethereum as a data availability layer, reducing deposit confirmation times from 10 to 3 minutes, and more.

Most importantly, Bedrock has improved proof modularity and Ethereum equivalence.

This framework allows developers to swap out different components and add new capabilities. For example, it abstracts the proof system, allowing you to choose between using a fault proof or validity proof. The Zircuit team used Halo 2, a validity-proving system.

They further modified the architecture with innovations resulting from their Ethereum Foundation and Zcash foundation-funded L2 research — I’ll go over them in features #3, #4, and #5.

Besides Optimism’s Bedrock and Halo 2, Zircuit’s tech stack includes Geth.

2. Full Ethereum Compatibility

Bedrock uses battle-tested Ethereum architecture and infrastructure as much as possible. By building on this framework, Zircuit has inherited its full EVM compatibility and security.

What does this mean for developers and users?

  • Tools, dapps, and wallets work the same as you’re used to.
  • To deploy an Ethereum dapp you don’t need to learn a new programming language or framework — simply change the deployment endpoints when you’re ready to launch.
  • The same goes for smart contracts; you can deploy EVM-compatible smart contract code on Zircuit.

In addition, Zircuit doesn’t have a governance token. All fees are paid in ETH.

All in all, the developer experience is essentially the same, apart from some inherent differences between an L1 and a rollup, such as the block time and fee model.

3. Security at the Sequencer Level

Besides inheriting Ethereum’s security, Zircuit offers users additional protection in a unique way.

Typical security efforts strictly focus on the application and smart contract layers. Zircuit prevents attacks by monitoring the mempool for malicious transactions at the sequencer level — in addition to security efforts focused on the application and smart contract levels.

If malicious transactions, exploit contracts, or other issues are detected and verified, Zircuit prevents their inclusion into the next block. This results in a more secure chain for projects and users.

4. Secure Native Bridge

Zircuit’s secure native bridge infrastructure uses best-in-class security architecture and safety practices to ensure cross-chain transactions are safe and easy.

When you deposit, you’re moving assets from Ethereum to Zircuit, and when you withdraw, it’s the other way around. The bridge ensures your assets stay safe during this process.

5. Cutting-Edge Performance Powered by Decomposed Circuits

In traditional blockchains, transactions are processed linearly, which can lead to significant bottlenecks during high network usage times.

Zircuit has revolutionized transaction processing with its groundbreaking approach — decomposing circuits.

Instead of the traditional one-after-the-other processing, Zircuit breaks down complex transactions into simpler components and processes them in parallel. (If you come from a traditional IT background, think of it as task parallelism.)

This innovation allows Zircuit to take on a much higher volume of transactions simultaneously, reducing latency and scaling the network’s throughput.

Let’s explore how this fits into the Zircuit transaction flow.

Zircuit Transaction Flow and Provers

Once the sequencer tells the execution engine which transactions should be in a block and the execution engine processes those transactions into L2 blocks, those blocks are processed by Zircuit provers.

Zircuit Transaction Flow
Zircuit transaction flow — image source

“Zircuit provers” are decomposed SNARK circuits.

Each part of the decomposed circuits (i.e., each Zircuit prover) has a specific role in proving different aspects of the transactions. For example, one may prove a transaction was performed correctly, while another proves that a relevant Keccak operation was executed properly.

This produces several smaller proofs that are faster to generate. They’re later aggregated to form a single validity proof for a batch of L2 blocks that can be verified on Ethereum with a smart contract.

The result? A zero-knowledge rollup that’s much more efficient, has lower operational costs, and allows for cheaper and faster transactions.

Start Building on Zircuit

Zircuit is a highly secure, fully EVM-compatible ZK-rollup with cutting-edge performance and a significant breakthrough in the Web3 world.

It has recently completed the fourth and last stage of its roadmap — launching the mainnet — and is now open to everyone.

Everything that works on Ethereum works on Zircuit — it takes minutes to get onboarded and deploy a contract.

Check out the developer docs and connect to Zircuit to start building.

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