Comparative analysis of Polygon’s four major ZK solutions: What are their characteristics and advantages?

Author: cookies, Venture Capital Analyst

Compiled by: Felix, PANews

When Ethereum faced network congestion, the sky-high fees made the Ethereum network too expensive, and some users could not afford it, causing many users to leave the Ethereum ecosystem. Given Ethereum’s rollup-centric roadmap and Vitalik’s stance that ZK rollups will beat Optimistic rollups in the future. As an Ethereum sidechain Polygon that aims to solve scalability, it sees the potential of ZK in bringing the next generation of one billion users into the blockchain field, and invests $1 billion in building ZK solutions. Regarding Polygon’s layout on ZK, VC analyst Cookies interpreted Polygon’s four major ZK solutions.

Polygon Hermez | zkEVM

Hermez is the first decentralized ZK Rollup on the Ethereum mainnet, offering payment services as early as March 2021. Based on the ZK-SNARK architecture, Polygon Hermez aims to solve the scalability problem of the Ethereum blockchain by using zero-knowledge proofs to enable faster and cheaper transactions on the Ethereum network. Since the EVM was not created to generate ZK Proofs (ZKPs), Polygon Hermez primarily builds the zkEVM by recreating all EVM operation code.

Why zkEVM?

By building zkEVM, the EVM opcode simulated by Polygon Hermez can bring the following advantages:

1. Inherit the strong security of Ethereum

2. Ease of adoption, as the Ethereum developer community can easily migrate their EVM work to zkEVM and use existing tools (good development experience).


The architecture based on ZK-SNARK can provide up to 2000 TPS and keep the cost below 300,000 Gas.

Polygon Zero | SNARK + STARK

Polygon Zero was formerly known as Mir Protocol. When Polygon Zero originally developed Plonky2, it took 2 minutes to generate a recursive proof. And now Plonky2 takes only 170ms to generate a recursive proof on a laptop.

Polygon Zero is ultimately building the most scalable zkEVM powered by Plonky2. Plonky2 is a recursive SNARK that is 100x faster than any other ZK scaling scheme on Ethereum. This is achieved by combining the advantages of STARKs (fast proof and no trusted setup) with the advantages of SNARKs (recursion, low verification cost).

EVM compatibility

Plonky2 is compatible with native Ethereum, supports Solidity code, and converts it to ZK bytecode. Polygon Zero is thus able to leverage the existing Ethereum dApp ecosystem.

Polygon Miden |

STARK-based rollup has the following functions:

  • Transparent and scalable: no trusted setup/preprocessing required
  • Lean Cryptography: Future Quantum Computer Attacks Are Impossible
  • High performance: leading proof generation and verification times

Polygon Miden centers around the Miden VM (Virtual Machine) and supports arbitrary programs. More developer-friendly by hiding all the cryptographic complexity of ZKPs and following architectural patterns familiar to developers (stack machines, reading and writing memory, etc.).


One of the main features of Polygon Miden is security. The protocol removes some unsafe features (available on the EVM), which makes it easier to statically analyze smart contracts and prevent certain bugs at the virtual machine (VM) level.

EVM compatibility

Miden is compatible with Ethereum at the Solidity level. Developers can deploy most Solidity smart contracts on Miden without modification. Another novelty is compatibility with other languages ​​such as Move and Sway.


At launch, TPS will be between 1000 and 2000. Once the shards are deployed on Ethereum, the TPS will reach about 20,000 TPS.

Polygon Nightfall| Optimistic + ZK

In contrast to the aforementioned ZK solutions, Nightfall focuses on private transfers and payments, supporting ERC20, ERC721 and ERC1155 tokens.

Any data that does not need to be stored on the smart contract is stored off-chain, optimizing the smart contract. The team is working on an instant withdrawal mechanism to allow users to bypass the 1-week deadline to submit proof of fraud. This protocol is significantly slower, up to 105TPS. However, it is estimated that the gas fee for transfer can be reduced by up to 86%, stabilizing at about 9000 gas.


The figure below is the author’s summary of the four schemes:

in conclusion

Clearly, Polygon is investing a lot of time and money in spearheading the development of ZK scaling solutions. Let’s wait and see the performance of the mainnet and how it will work with other ZK protocols.

Related reading: An article to understand 5 expansion solutions in the Polygon ecosystem

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