This zkSync vs. Starkware article compares the two solutions to help you decide which is better for your requirements. We will look at their features, performance, foundations, backers, and other vital aspects that make them stand out. By the end of this post, you will better understand which solution best suits your specific conditions.

Key Insights:

  • The ​​State of Layer 2: A Comprehensive Discussion
  • A Close Comparison of zkSync vs StarkWare

The ​​State of Layer 2: A Comprehensive Discussion

This section provides a general summary of Layer 2 and its present state. After that, we’ll also provide a table that compares various features among distinctive L2 solutions.

What is Layer 2?

Before discussing the Layer 2 (L2) network, let’s explain what Layer 1 (L1) entails. Basically, the layer 1 network is a blockchain’s cornerstone or underpinning infrastructure. 

These blockchains, referred to as the “mainnet” or “main network,” frequently begin with an emphasis on decentralization and security. Both qualities are fundamental principles of any reliable network. 

With some exceptions, they are upheld by a diverse international system of developers and participants like validators. As demonstrated by examples like Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Solana, it not only defines the ecosystem’s fundamental principles but also can validate and complete transactions.

Layer 2 projects will build networks on top of the L1 network, such as Ethereum’s “rollups” project. This information may be utilized to determine how Layer 2 challenges L1 transactional activities.

Today, more than ever, the L2 network transcends Layer 1 as it offers:

  • Lower fees: Layer 2 combines several off-chain transfers into a single L1 transaction to lessen the data load. By completing transactions on the mainnet, they also maintain decentralization and security.
  • More utility: Layer 2 projects can concentrate on enhancing user experience and broadening the range of applications thanks to the advantages of increased transactions per second (TPS) and lower payment charges combined.

Let’s look at the table below to compare the Layer 2 solutions features among Plasma, Optimistic rollups, and ZK rollups.

PLASMAOPTIMISTIC ROLL-UPSZK ROLL-UPS
DeFi Readiness/EVM compatibilityPlasma chain and DeFi applications can be connected via sidechains; added complexity makes EVM and DeFi applications less ideal.Execution models are similar to EVMLacks extensive EVM support; few Zero Knowledge roll-ups are compatible with EVM
Proof of ValidityUtilizes fraud proofs when arbitrating conflictsFraud proofs aid in providing validityZKPs act as transaction validity proof
SecurityReliant on a bonded fraud proofs system for securityPoints out the significance of providing users with crypto-economic incentives to ensure rollup securityUtilizes cryptographic proofs to ensure security
Transaction FinalityThe waiting period lasts from 7 to 14 daysTransaction finality for the challenge period is delayed by one weekTransaction completion is not delayed because ZK roll-ups include validity proof
Realistic Throughput CapAbout 15 to 20 TPSAbout 500 TPSOver 1,000 TPS
OperationsCeasedContinuedContinued
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A Close Comparison of zkSync vs StarkWare

ZkSync and Starkware have their advantages against each other. We will compare both of these projects to understand how they differ from each other in terms of their foundation, technology, and fundraisers. It will be evaluated based on their foundation’s principles, project technology efficiency, scalability, and EVM compatibility.

What is zkSync?

Zksync Homepage

zkSync is a layer 2 security solution that uses zero-knowledge proofs to protect data. It provides developers with a secure and reliable platform to create applications resistant to fraud and censorship. 

The zkSync project enables users to make secure transactions without trusting any third party. With its advanced technology, zkSync can provide businesses and individuals with more efficient, cost-effective, and safer solutions. Rather than just increasing Ethereum’s throughput, its principles are bounded by fully preserving Ethereum’s core values at scale, including:

  • Freedom
  • Self-sovereignty
  • Decentralization

zkSync is also promoting values, including:

  • Security: The core team of zkSync oversaw the sequencer and protocol updates from the beginning of its deployment to guarantee safety, dependability, and prompt response to urgent issues.
  • Community-owned: The long-term objective of zkSync is to move toward a situation in which the network’s sequencer, community stewardship, and all other essential components are entirely decentralized. The zkSync belongs to its community as a whole, and each member is responsible for protecting its principles.
  • Resilience: The purpose of zkSync goes beyond decentralization. According to this perspective, the ability to maintain autonomy, inclusivity, and trustlessness for every network user is the actual value of resilience.
  • Forkability: zkSync functions by keeping its code open source and forkable and guaranteeing that the protocol can be terminated anytime. It ensures that the community will always be able to take control of zkSync’s stewardship and steer it in the right direction, regardless of whether the core team or the protocol governance ever veers off the mission.
  • Trustlessness: To eventually remove all trust presumptions from public blockchains, zkSync diligently applies advanced cryptography of zero-knowledge proofs. They affirm that you should only believe things you can independently verify: math and code.

What is StarkWare?

Starkware Homepage

One of StarkWare’s products is the StarkNet, a decentralized Validity-Rollup functioning as a Layer 2 network over Ethereum. It allows any app to reach an enormous scale while maintaining the security and composability of Ethereum. To do that, it incorporates the following principles in its services:

  • Scalability: StarkWare achieves true scalability, enabling extensive decentralization without subjecting nodes to ever-increasing costs. The dilemma of the fee market has been turned on its head because more transactions can now be performed with the same hardware using computations that are more powerful and complex.
  • Security: To give both prospective and current users uncompromised security and uncompromised UX, StarkWare works to anticipate the advancement of nascent capabilities which will push the crypto industry toward a better and more inclusive future.
  • Privacy: ​With the help of StarkNet and StarkEx, StarkWare’s mission is to boost the confidentiality of blockchains through the ZK-proof system.

To briefly distinguish the two techs, kindly look at the table below.

zkSyncStarkWare
Programming FrameworkWrites in zkSyncWrites in Cairo
Proof Techutilizes SNARKs (Succinct Non-Interactive ARgument of Knowledge)post-quantum insecure proofs are only 1 KBuses internally developed ZK-STARKs (Scalable Transparent Argument of Knowledge)proofs are under 50KBpost-quantum secure
EcosystemOpen sourceCloud source
DecentralizationFully DecentralizedFully Decentralized
Smart ContractsBacks EVM-compatible smart contractsBacks custom STARK-based smart contracts
Maximum Transactions Per Second2,000 TPS (High Throughput)9,000 TPS (High Throughput)
AchievementsHas transfers (payments) and a testnet
Has three production systems: 
– spot trading
margin trading
NFTs

zkSync vs Starkware: Foundation team

We’ve defined zkSync and StarkWare. Let’s look into their foundation and the industry that conceived the tech projects.

The Matter Labs is an engineering group attempting to scale Ethereum by using zero-knowledge proofs. They consider it the technology that will enable the mass adoption of public blockchains. The group’s goal is to quicken the current financial revolution.

As a result, zkSync has been in operation since the summer of 2020 and has increased usage. It proposes solidity in a ZK rollup, making crypto payments more affordable. It will eventually be utilized to leverage arbitrary smart contracts.

Meanwhile, StarkWare creates STARK-based solutions for the blockchain industry. It facilitates secure, trustless, and scalable blockchain applications. This software company headquartered in Israel creates a full-proof stack for making and confirming computational integrity proofs in blockchains. It uses the Ethereum platform and builds zero-knowledge-proof technology that squeezes data to solve the blockchain’s scalability issue.

To increase the scalability of the blockchain, Starkware develops technology known as STARK (scalable transparent ARgument of knowledge). First, StarkWare made its technology available as StarkEx, a unique scaling engine that debuted on Ethereum in June 2020. A year later, StarkWare unveiled StarkNet, a permissionless platform accessible to clients and can be used by any developer to create scalable, decentralized applications.

zkSync vs Starkware: Technology and EVM Compatibility

zkSync and StarkNet’s EVM compatibility is different because they use two other proofing techniques. Solidity and Vyper must first be compiled to Yul (an intermediate language) before getting reduced to zkEVM bytecode through LLVM for zkSync V2 to claim to be 99% EVM compatible.

Additionally, zkSync supports Zinc, a Rust-like language that is ZKP optimized and compiles straight to bytecode using LLVM. Zinc’s development has been put on hold since September 2021 because of zkSync’s emphasis on Solidity compatibility, despite it still needing to be Turing complete.

Technology Of Zksync And Starkware

​However, StarkNet is not currently working on EVM compatibility. Developers must become familiar with Cairo, a programming language created by StarkWare for STARK provable programs, to set up smart contracts on StarkNet. 

Alternatively, smart contract developers can use Warp, a transpiler created by NetherindEth, to translate their Solidity code to Cairo. Even so, the transpiler still does not allow for various Solidity features and is still far from having the same level of EVM compatibility s zkSync V2.

zkSync vs Starkware: Fundraisers & Backers

In the first place, zkSync is a startup. The zkSync project was launched in the summer of 2020. However, since at least 2019, Matter Labs, the startup that created zkSync, has been working on Layer 2 scaling zero-knowledge proofs.

Zksync Backers

That said, it is heavily reliant on outside funding. Twenty VC funds, cryptocurrency incubators, and investors have contributed $400 million to Matter Labs. A few of its biggest and original backers are as follows:

  • Ethereum Foundation
  • Dekrypt Capital
  • Placeholder
  • Dragonfly Capital
  • 1kx

zkSync also received funding from BitDAO, Huobi Venture, USV, and OKX Blockdream Ventures once they got going.

The layer-two solution StarkWare was developed and produced to extend and overcome Ethereum’s weaknesses in 2018. The business had to raise money to make this feasible. Sources claim that the previous StarkWare consistently prevailed in three funding rounds:

  • Series A: raised $30 million
  • Series B: raised $75 million
  • Series C: raised $ 50 million
Starkware Backers

Famous backers and traders mentioned to have taken part in raising money include the following:

  • Coinbase Ventures, Scalar Capital, and Multicoin Capital for Series A
  • Founders Fund, Pantera, and Three Arrows Capital for Series B
  • Sequoia for Series C

Conclusion 

In this article, we’ve differentiated zkSync and StarkWare for you to find out which one would work for your needs and is deemed more beneficial. The future of these projects can only go so far due to their focus on a more decentralized, secured, and uncompromised performance.

Let’s look at the two based on a scaling solution that doesn’t sacrifice security but provides low gas and quick transactions. You can say this is where zkSync excels. However, suppose your concern is focused on a project concentrating its development efforts on throughput, transaction fees, and latency while establishing usability. In that case, you may think StarkWare is a better option.

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