The blockchain space moves fast, but some of the foundations can’t be forgotten. Vitalik proposed that a possible form oif cryptography pioneered by Zcash might be able to better scale Ethereum. Using what’s called ‘zk-SNARKS,’ Ethereum could use part of Zcash’s consensus method to scale Ethereum up to 500 transactions-per-second. This would all be able to be done without a second-layer solution such as Plasma or Raiden. Previously, Vitalik had expressed admission that this second-layer was necessary before any increase in transaction speeds.
The new idea has caught some buzz in the Ethereum development community and crypto space at large. What makes zk-SNARKS the possible solution? As explained by CoinDesk, they allow for large batches of information to be compressed into what are called ‘proofs’ — they are condensed and the information remains the same size regardless of the amount of inputs. Zk-SNARKS would thus be used to mass validate transactions on the most fundamental, first layer of Ethereum.
Buterin went on to describe a system incorporating these zk-SNARKS with “relayer nodes” Which would be tasked with aggregating all the transactions into batches in exchange for a small transaction fee. According to his estimate, he sees that such a system could boost transaction speeds by “24x for ETH transactions” and “50x for ERC-20 transfers.”
Ethereum has undoubtedly had a tough month. After its recent price collapse, it has only slowly now begun to recover. But the question surrounding Ethereum are still pressing. For example, Afri Schoedon, who is the communications officer for Parity, said on Friday to developers to “stop deploying DApps to Ethereum — we are running at capacity.” This is stark call that has since caught the Ethereum community at a crossroads. They must resolve the scaling problem or they run the risk of falling behind and backlogging their network.
However, Buterin remains optimistic. In response to Schoedon’s comment, Vitalik said he disagreed.
“Most dapps have lots of room to gas-optimize, and even if *you* don’t your dapp running raises gas fees and pressures *others* to gas-optimize. There’s *plenty* of low-value spam on chain. And everyone should be looking into layer-2 solutions.”
The development community of Ethereum remains strong. However, the zk-SNARKS solution is one of many that have yet to have concretely been implemented. And as time is ticking, the question on which of these many solutions Ethereum will eventually settle on remains unanswered.