How to Choose the Best Rollup for Ethereum Scaling: A Guide to Arbitrum, zkSync, and Polygon

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An Arbitrum and Two Launches: Welcome to Rollup Season

Have you heard about rollups? They are an obscure technology that has been making waves in the lately. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ But what are rollups and how can you determine the differences between each? In this article, we will explore three that are using rollups to boost Ethereum's performance: Arbitrum, zkSync, and Polygon. ๐Ÿš€

What is a rollup?

A rollup is a type of solution that moves network activity off of the Ethereum mainnet to lower gas costs and increase throughput. ๐Ÿ™Œ Instead of executing work on Ethereum, all of the same activities like coins or taking out are done on this layer-2 rollup. Then, only a summary of these (a โ€œrollupโ€) is periodically submitted to Ethereum for finality and security. ๐Ÿ” This way, Ethereum can handle more transactions without sacrificing or security.

What are the different types of rollups?

There are two main types of rollups: and zero-knowledge rollups. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Optimistic rollups assume that transactions are valid by default, unless someone challenges them within a certain time period (usually one week). This allows for fast confirmation times and high compatibility with Ethereum . However, it also means that have to wait for a long time to withdraw their funds from the rollup, unless they use a liquidity service.

Zero-knowledge rollups use cryptographic proofs (called โ€œzero-knowledge proofsโ€) to verify transactions without revealing any details about them. ๐Ÿคซ This allows for instant finality and withdrawal times, as well as higher and privacy. However, it also means that compatibility is more limited and complex, as developers have to rewrite their code using a different programming language.

What are Arbitrum, zkSync, and Polygon?

Arbitrum, zkSync, and Polygon are three projects that are using rollup technology to scale Ethereum. ๐Ÿš€ They have different features and tradeoffs that make them suitable for different use cases and preferences.


Arbitrum is an optimistic rollup solution that aims to provide low-cost, high-speed, and fully compatible smart contracts on Ethereum. ๐Ÿ’ฏ It has attracted many popular protocols such as , Aave, MakerDAO, Compound, Chainlink, and more. ๐Ÿ™Œ

On March 23, Arbitrum finally distributed its highly-anticipated ARB , decentralizing its inventory into the hands of its most dedicated users. ๐ŸŽ The average user received around 625 ARB , which corresponds to around $625 to $1,250, according to pre- trading prices and popular estimations. ๐Ÿ’ฐ The hype was so fierce, though, that it took down the project's main website as well as that of Arbiscanโ€”Arbitrum's Etherscan equivalentโ€”because eligible could their airdrop via either site. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ


zkSync is a zero-knowledge rollup solution that aims to provide ultra-low fees, high security, and maximum privacy on Ethereum. ๐Ÿ”ฅ It uses a novel programming language called Zinc to enable developers to write smart contracts using zero-knowledge proofs. ๐Ÿง  It also supports and social features. ๐ŸŽจ

On March 21, zkSync launched its zkEVM , which is a compatibility layer that allows Ethereum smart contracts to run on zkSync without any changes. ๐Ÿ™€ This means that zkSync can offer the benefits of zero-knowledge rollups without sacrificing . ๐Ÿš€ zkSync claims that its zkEVM testnet can achieve up to 20,000 transactions per second (TPS) on Ethereum, which is more than 200 times faster than the current mainnet speed. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


Polygon is a multi-chain scaling solution that offers various frameworks for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible networks. ๐ŸŒ One of its frameworks is Polygon SDK, which allows developers to create standalone chains or secured chains that leverage Ethereum's security. Another framework is Polygon Hermez, which is a zero-knowledge rollup solution that focuses on scaling and token transfers on Ethereum. ๐Ÿ’ธ

On March 22, Polygon announced the launch of its zkEVM alpha mainnet, which is another zero-knowledge rollup solution that supports smart contracts on Ethereum. ๐ŸŽ‰ It uses a similar approach as zkSync's zkEVM testnet, but with some differences in the design and implementation. ๐Ÿค“ Polygon's zkEVM alpha mainnet saw its first transaction executed by none other than Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum. He wrote into the transaction a message: โ€œA few million constraints for man, unconstrained scalability for mankind.โ€ ๐Ÿš€

Which rollup should you use?

With so many solutions entering the market, which layer-2 rollup will capture the lion's share of users? ๐Ÿค” They're all relatively speedy, compatible with Ethereum, and have relatively similar warnings on the label. Matter Labs' zkSync is explicitly an โ€œalphaโ€ launch, and Polygon has called its offering โ€œbeta.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜Ž

When asked how a layperson is expected to know the difference, Anthony Rose, zkSync's head of engineering and also formerly an engineer at Musk's SpaceX, told Decrypt that โ€œthe systems will look somewhat similar early on, but once you project them out six months, four months, or five years, these will look very different.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜ฒ This is due to the various tradeoffs and design choices that each team has made. ๐Ÿง

For example, Arbitrum uses a sequencer to order transactions on its rollup, which improves user experience but introduces some centralization risk. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ zkSync and Polygon use a committee of to achieve consensus on their rollups, which is more decentralized but may have lower throughput or higher latency. ๐Ÿ˜• Arbitrum and Polygon use smart contracts, which makes it easier for developers to migrate their code from Ethereum. ๐Ÿ˜Š zkSync uses a new programming language, which requires more effort but offers more scalability and privacy. ๐Ÿ˜

Ultimately, the choice of which rollup to use may depend on your personal preferences and needs. ๐Ÿ™Œ Do you speed or security? Compatibility or ? Simplicity or flexibility? ๐Ÿค” There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but rather a spectrum of possibilities. ๐ŸŒˆ You may also want to try different rollups for different purposes, such as using zkSync for payments and Arbitrum for DeFi. ๐Ÿš€ The good is that you don't have to stick with one rollup forever, as there are bridges and solutions that allow you to move your and data across different layer-2 networks. ๐ŸŒ‰

The Bottom Line

Rollups are an exciting technology that can help Ethereum scale to new heights. ๐Ÿš€ They offer lower fees, higher speed, and better user experience than the congested mainnet. ๐Ÿ˜ They also preserve Ethereum's security and compatibility, unlike some other scaling solutions that sacrifice these aspects. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

However, not all rollups are created equal. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ There are different types of rollups (optimistic and zero-knowledge) and different projects that use them (Arbitrum, zkSync, and Polygon). ๐Ÿ˜Ž They have different features and tradeoffs that make them suitable for different use cases and preferences. ๐Ÿ™Œ You may want to explore different rollups and see which one works best for you. ๐Ÿ˜Š Or you may want to use multiple rollups for different purposes and enjoy the best of both worlds. ๐ŸŒŽ

Whatever you choose, you can be sure that rollups are here to stay and will play a key role in Ethereum's . ๐Ÿ™Œ Welcome to rollup season! ๐ŸŽ‰


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