zkEVM has been all the rage in 2022. Now a new zk Virtual Machine has entered the chat, zkWASM. While zkEVM focuses on scaling transactions, zkWASM scales computational possibilities. This blog post is a summary of @lastmjs’s Twitter space on zkWASM where we explored the key differences between zkEVM and zkWASM, and discussed why zkWASM could become a far bigger deal in the blockchain space.
Understanding WASM and zkWASM
WebAssembly (WASM) is a virtual machine used in web development, allowing developers to program in various languages and compile them into the universal target of WASM. It can run on different devices, such as smartphones, laptops, Raspberry Pis, and servers. Its efficiency, portability, and compatibility with popular programming languages make it a favorite among developers.
zkWASM, on the other hand, is a computational proof generator that enables developers to verify a computation has been executed correctly without re-running the computation. This trustless method of computation is a game-changer for blockchain technology.
The Limitations of zkEVM
While zkEVM allows developers to code in Solidity and create off-chain smart contract proofs, it has its limitations. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is constrained by the fact that it can only run smart contracts coded in domain specific languages such as Solidity, making it suitable for EVM-compatible rollups but not much else.
The Power of zkWASM
In contrast, zkWASM offers infinite possibilities by allowing any type of computation to be performed trustlessly off-chain. With zkWASM, developers can use validity proofs to scale computational capabilities without having to trust third-party providers. This level of flexibility is not possible with zkEVM, which is limited by Solidity.
Additionally, zkWASM is portable, while zkEVM solutions like zkSync or Polygon Hermez are not. Portability means that zkWASM has the potential to be run on more platforms due to its native universality, whereas zkEVMs have more restricted hardware requirements. That being said, zkWASM does still require a large RAM and a beefy GPU and without further acceleration it cannot yet fully compete with its cousin WASM which runs basically everywhere.
The Future of zkWASM
With the support of a strong community and a vast ecosystem, zkWASM has the potential to revolutionize the blockchain space. Projects such as Hyper Oracle, Delphinus Labs, Ankr, zkCross, and Dfinity are already working on zkWASM implementations.
Possible use cases for zkWASM include oracles, off-chain computation, automation, web2 meets web3, and proofs for machine learning models or data processing. As more developers and projects adopt zkWASM, its impact will scale the possibilities of web3 and open the doors to web2 developers.
Bigger than zkEVM?
As @lastmjs stated during the Twitter Space, "one possible future is that zkWASM becomes a far bigger deal than zkEVM or at least has much more adoption inside and outside of the blockchain space."
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