Polygon Unveils ZK-Rollup Solution Miden to Scale Ethereum

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Key Takeaways

Polygon has launched a ZK-Rollup solution called Miden. It’s the latest project developed under Polygon’s $1 billion fund allocated to ZK-based projects.
Miden is developed by Ethereum engineer Bobbin Threadbare.
The Polygon team also recently acquired the ZK-Rollup solution Hermez Network for $250 million.

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The Polygon team has launched Miden, a new scaling solution based on zero-knowledge proofs.

Polygon Adds Layer 2 Solution

Polygon has launched a new Layer 2 ZK-Rollup solution called Miden. The solution uses zero-knowledge STARKs, otherwise known as ZK-STARKs—a type of cryptographic proof technology that can verify data or computation without revealing them to a third party.

Miden is the latest project developed under Polygon’s $1 billion fund allocated to ZK-based projects. In August, the Polygon team acquired the ZK-Rollup solution Hermez Network for $250 million. The following month, it launched Nightfall, a separate privacy-focused rollup built in collaboration with EY.

While Polygon is known for operating the largest sidechain network on Ethereum, the team is also developing several Layer 2 scaling solutions, including Optimistic Rollups and ZK-Rollups.

These scaling solutions aim to help Ethereum smart contracts achieve the high performance needed for mass adoption by increasing speeds and reducing costs without compromising on security. It’s hoped that scaling will help Ethereum support dApps focusing on use cases like gaming, NFTs, and social media.

In a press release, Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal said that Miden would help “accelerate validation for DeFi apps and cryptocurrencies,” before adding that zero-knowledge proofs are key to helping Ethereum scale. He said:

“ZK is the way ahead for Ethereum, and Miden VM is one of the most important elements in Polygon’s roadmap for Ethereum scalability.”

Ethereum’s ZK-Rollups allow transactions to be batched and create a cryptographic proof. This in turn reduces the load on the base chain and enables cheaper and faster transactions. However, while ZK-Rollups reduce congestion and gas fees, they are limited in their ability to validate all transactions off-chain. Polygon says that Miden will address the issue by leveraging the Miden Virtual Machine (VM), a virtual architecture designed to support the processing of smart contracts at the Layer 2 level.

Miden VM is based on Distaff VM, a STARK-based virtual machine developed by the Ethereum engineer Bobbin Threadbare. He has joined Polygon as Miden Lead to implement STARKs within the Polygon ecosystem.

Threadbare told Crypto Briefing that Miden differs from Hermez in that it is a “pure STARK-based solution” that would leverage its own virtual machine. Hermez, however, relies on full compatibility with the Ethereum Virtual Machine.

While Hermez will be fully EVM-compatible, Miden’s compatibility will only exist at the Solidity level. Solidity is Ethereum’s programming language; it’s used to write smart contracts on the network. Boobin explained:

“Miden is a rollup, so it’s more similar to Hermez than a Proof-of-Stake chain. It’s different from Hermez in that it is a pure STARK-based solution, whereas Hermez plans to use STARKs and Groth16. The other difference is that Hermez is planning to emulate the EVM at the op-code level, whereas Miden will have its own VM to which people will be able to compile Solidity code.”

In the future, Polygon plans to aggregate all of its scaling solutions, including its Proof-of-Stake sidechain, Hermez Network, Miden, and Nightfall. While the Polygon ecosystem has seen huge growth in 2021, Miden will still have to compete with a number of other promising zero knowledge-based scaling solutions, including Matter Labs’ zkSync and StarkWare’s Cairo.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this feature owned ETH, MATIC, and several other cryptocurrencies.  

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