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zkEVMs: Exploring Different Approaches to Scaling Ethereum
Osgur Murphy O Kane
Key Takeaways
16 min read
  • ‘zkEVM’ describes ZK-Rollups with varying degrees of Ethereum compatibility. Vitalik has classified zkEVMs into four categories, which make trade-offs between Ethereum compatibility and prover performance.
  • The EVM is extremely challenging to ZK prove. This generally means that greater EVM compatibility means longer and more expensive proving. This has centralization implications as it will make it very difficult to decentralize proving.
  • The varying incompatibilities across zkEVMs has the potential to cause some difficulties. However, it's important to have a variety of solutions available at this stage to understand which trade-offs are most valuable/important over the longer term.


Many see the EVM’s adoption and continued dominance as inevitable. Ethereum has the greatest wealth of infrastructure, tooling, and developers of any ecosystem. About 97% of all TVL in DeFi is in EVM chains, which speaks for itself. This has created a strong network effect around Ethereum, specifically on the EVM.

As a result, several ZK-Rollup projects have been working on implementing ‘zkEVMs’, e.g. an EVM-compatible ZK-Rollup. There is great excitement around this technology, with some going as far as calling it the ‘holy grail of scaling’.

While you may hear the term zkEVM to describe multiple projects, there are many different implementations of zkEVM with different trade-offs regarding performance and actual Ethereum...