Comparative analysis of the four major ZK solutions on Polygon: What are their characteristics and advantages?

Author: cookies, Venture Capital Analyst

Translation: Felix, BlockingNews

When Ethereum faces network congestion, the exorbitant fees make the Ethereum network too expensive, and some users cannot afford it, leading to many users leaving the Ethereum ecosystem. In view of Ethereum’s rollup-centric roadmap and Vitalik’s position that ZK rollups will beat Optimistic rollups in the future. As an Ethereum sidechain aimed at solving scalability, Polygon sees the potential of ZK in bringing the next billion users into the blockchain field and has invested $1 billion to build ZK solutions. Venture capital analyst cookies interprets Polygon’s four ZK solutions regarding Polygon’s layout on ZK.

Polygon Hermez | zkEVM

Hermez is the first decentralized ZK Rollup on the Ethereum mainnet to provide payment services as early as March 2021. Polygon Hermez is based on the ZK-SNARK architecture and aims to use zero-knowledge proofs to solve the scalability problem of the Ethereum blockchain to achieve faster and cheaper transactions on the Ethereum network. Since EVM was not created to generate ZK proofs (ZKP), Polygon Hermez mainly builds zkEVM by recreating all EVM opcode.

Why is it zkEVM?

By building zkEVM, the EVM opcode simulated by Polygon Hermez can bring the following advantages:

1. Inherit Ethereum’s strong security

2. Easy to adopt, as the Ethereum developer community can easily migrate their EVM work to zkEVM and use existing tools (good development experience).


Based on the ZK-SNARK architecture, it can provide up to 2000 TPS and keep the cost below 300,000 Gas.

Polygon Zero | SNARK + STARK

Polygon Zero, formerly known as Mir Protocol. Polygon Zero took 2 minutes to generate a recursive proof when initially developing Plonky2. Now Plonky2 can generate a recursive proof on a laptop in just 170 milliseconds.

Polygon Zero ultimately aims to build the most scalable zkEVM supported by Plonky2. Plonky2 is a recursive SNARK that is 100 times faster than any other ZK expansion solution on Ethereum. This is achieved by combining the advantages of STARKs (fast proof and no trusted setup) and SNARKs (recursion and low verification cost).

EVM Compatibility

Plonky2 is compatible with native Ethereum, supports Solidity code, and converts it to ZK bytecode. Therefore, Polygon Zero can leverage the existing Ethereum dApp ecosystem.

Polygon Miden | STARK

The STARK-based rollup has the following features:

  • Transparent and scalable: no trusted setup/preprocessing required
  • Lean cryptography: quantum computer attacks are impossible in the future
  • High performance: leading proof generation and verification times

Polygon Miden is centered around the Miden VM (virtual machine) and supports arbitrary programs. By hiding all the encryption complexity of ZKP and following familiar architecture patterns for developers (stack machine, read/write memory, etc.), it is more developer-friendly.


One of the main features of Polygon Miden is security. The protocol removes some insecure features (available on the EVM), making it easier to statically analyze smart contracts and prevent certain VM-level errors.

EVM Compatibility

Miden is compatible with Ethereum at the Solidity level. Developers can deploy most Solidity smart contracts on Miden without modification. In addition, a novelty is compatibility with other languages (such as Move and Sway).


At launch, TPS will be between 1000 and 2000. Once shards are deployed on Ethereum, TPS will reach about 20,000 TPS.

Polygon Nightfall | Optimistic + ZK

In contrast to the above ZK solution, Nightfall focuses on private transfers and payments, supporting ERC20, ERC721, and ERC1155 tokens.

Any data that does not need to be stored on a smart contract is stored off-chain, optimizing the smart contract. The team is researching an instant withdrawal mechanism so that users can bypass the one-week deadline for submitting fraudulent proofs. The protocol is significantly slower, with a maximum of 105 TPS. However, it is estimated that gas fees for transfers can be reduced by up to 86%, stabilizing at around 9000 gas.


The following figure summarizes the four solutions:


Apparently, Polygon is investing a lot of time and resources in leading the development of ZK scaling solutions. We look forward to seeing how this will improve the performance of the mainnet, as well as how it will collaborate with other ZK protocols.

Related Reading: Understanding 5 Scaling Solutions in the Polygon Ecosystem

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