ZK Stack developers can now build custom ‘hyperchains’ on Ethereum

Matter Labs’ Anthony Rose says the system includes all the “core components” that together construct “hyperchains”


optimarc/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


It’s official. ZK Stack is now available to developers.

Matter Labs, developers of the zero-knowledge layer-2 scaling solution zkSync Era, recently released the open-source code to the public.

So what’s so special about it?

Matter Labs’ Alex Gluchowski and Anthony Rose spoke to Blockworks on the 0xResearch podcast (Apple/Spotify) about the nuts and bolts of the Ethereum-compatible open-source protocol that rivals Optimism’s OP Stack.

ZK Stack is a modular framework for building highly customizable blockchains, CEO Gluchowski told Blockworks. The layer-2 tech uses cryptographic zero-knowledge proofs rather than the “optimistic” approach to rollups, which assumes transaction validity unless proven otherwise. 

Senior vice-president of technology Rose says the system includes all the “core components” that together would be used to form “hyperchains.”

The stack will also include “the tooling around that,” he says, like compilers, SDKs for configurations and so forth. “Essentially,” it’s everything needed “to be able to deploy a version of this system that looks like Era today, but over time could be more flexible.”

Customize or copy-paste

“You can start with all the defaults. Just copy the configuration of zkSync Era,” Gluchowski explains. “Or you can say, I want this component to look differently.” 

Gluchowski explains the sequencer can be customized to be centralized or decentralized in functionality, depending on the developer’s needs and preferences. 

While certain enterprises, banks or gaming companies might not feel a need to decentralize the sequencer, Gluchowski expects most chains to sequence transactions in a decentralized manner.

“You will be able to choose all of the parameters, which consensus algorithm you want to use, how you secure it, what token you want to use there and so on.”

The data availability mechanism is also customizable, Gluchowski continues. 

“ZK rollup is an architecture in which you publish data availability through the Ethereum network,” He says. “You rely on Ethereum’s layer-1 as your data availability layer.”

Because the technology relies on Ethereum’s mainnet for security, it is “by far, the most secure option,” he says. But as of now, he admits, this security comes “at a price.”

“All the rollups on Ethereum — Optimistic and ZK rollups alike — share the same data bandwidth, the same limited block space which you can utilize for your data.”

“It’s currently pretty limited,” he says, but will be extended once proto-danksharding is implemented on Ethereum. Data availability demands will be “a bottleneck” for now, he says, adding it may need to be managed by other parties in the meantime to handle demands.

A seamless experience

According to Gluchowski, one major advantage of the new tech is its ability to provide complex interactions between decentralized parties in seamless transactions. 

Users will be able to interact with all the DeFi protocols like Uniswap or Curve “on the ZK rollup side,” he says.

“Imagine Uniswap would launch their own ‘Uni-chain’ as a separate hyper chain in the zkSync network,” he says. The chain would be fully separate with its own sequencer and enjoy all the benefits of security provided by Ethereum.

If an individual with funds in a wallet on zkSync Era wanted to interact with Uniswap on-chain and execute a trade, it would appear as one seamless transaction to the user, he says. 

The transaction would bridge from Era over a “hyper-bridge” to the Uniswap chain, where it would reach the smart contract and swap tokens. The tokens would then be sent back over the bridge to the user wallet.

“All of that will happen asynchronously, but atomically,” Gluchowski says. In other words, “all of these transactions will be scheduled and they cannot be stopped.”

“For you as a user, you just wait a couple of minutes and the funds come back.”

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