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What is Taiko? An Ethereum-Equivalent and Decentralized ZKEVM L2

4.8
| by
CJ
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What Is Taiko?

Taiko aims to be a fully Ethereum-equivalent ZK-Rollup in order to scale Ethereum while maintaining its technical and fundamental principles. As a fully Ethereum-equivalent rollup, it will enable dApp developers and users to leverage the power of Ethereum Layer 1 (L1) without making any changes to their existing dApps. 


Key Takeaways

  • Rollups appear to be the best scaling solution for Ethereum, and Taiko aims to be the most Ethereum-equivalent.

  • Following Ethereum’s spirit of decentralization, Taiko aims to be fully decentralized, with decentralized sequencers and validators.

  • In order to achieve fast network speeds and scalability, Taiko uses zero knowledge proofs.


What is Taiko ZKEVM Ethereum Equivalent

Ethereum has changed the game with its global settlement network. It gave birth to digital and immutable ownership of assets and data and allows for permissionless transfers to anyone across the world at any time.

This system works because of its focus on decentralization and security rather than speed and scalability. However, the lack of scalability results in high transaction fees and low throughput, limiting Etherum’s potential.

The recent popularity of memecoins such as PEPE on Ethereum has again resulted in network congestion where gas fees cost over $50 per transaction. Thus, the need for Ethereum scaling solution continues. There are other protocols aiming to enable crypto and DeFi to scale, and Taiko is one of them.

pepe

Source: Pepe

Rollups have emerged as the most favorable scaling solution, with Ethereum-equivalent ZK-rollups being the most promising type of rollup and this is where Taiko comes in. Taiko was announced in 2022 and is founded by developers who have been using zero knowledge rollups since 2018.

The Taiko team is working to create a robust platform for Ethereum developers and users alike, and they have launched their alpha-2 testnet in March 2023 where there was a $25k prize pool for provers, as well as opportunities for a potential TKO airdrop in the future. Taiko’s testnet is currently closed as of this article while they work on the next phase of their testnet. For anyone interested in airdrops and using the highly talked about ZK rollups, Taiko should be at the top of that list, and we'll be putting together an airdrop guide once the next testnet phase is up.

In this article, we explore what Taiko is, its unique features, and its ecosystem.

Introduction To Taiko

Taiko is a decentralized Layer 2 blockchain protocol that uses a Zero Knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (ZK-EVM). It is designed to be the most Ethereum-equivalent and general-purpose Zero Knowledge Rollup (ZK-Rollup). 

The main objective of Taiko is to provide a scalable and efficient platform for decentralized applications (dApps) developers and users, allowing them to leverage the power of Ethereum Layer 1 (L1) without having to make any changes to their existing dApps. 

"The moment it dawned on me that Ethereum needed a scaling solution as similar to the original platform as possible was when I considered the long-term sustainability and growth of the ecosystem. I recognized that compatibility and decentralization were crucial aspects to ensure the continued success of Ethereum. I firmly believe in the concept of “develop once, deploy everywhere” as a guiding principle for Ethereum’s future."

 - Daniel Wang, CEO of Taiko

Source: Taiko Tuesday's 1 May 2023 Newsletter

Before we take a closer look at Taiko, let’s briefly take a look at ZK rollups as Taiko’s technology revolves around them.

What Are ZK Rollups?

ZK-rollups scale computation by executing, aggregating, and proving transactions off-chain, and relying on Ethereum for data availability and validity proof verification. 

The biggest drawback of the currently in-production ZK-rollups are that they cannot support the generalized computation of the EVM exactly, but instead are mostly application-specific. This breaks compatibility with existing Ethereum L1 smart contracts and dApps, and further, makes it difficult to build new ones that offer the same type of composable, expressive experiences.

Ethereum-equivalent ZK-rollups, sometimes called ZK-EVMs, are the holy grail of Layer 2 scaling solutions in that they do not compromise on security or compatibility while offering faster and cheaper transactions. 

There are already a few ZK-EVMs such as Scroll or Polygon. Let’s explore why Taiko is unique compared to other networks. 

Ethereum-Equivalent ZK-EVM 

Taiko is building a Type 1 ZK-EVM which is engineered to achieve complete compatibility with Ethereum by incorporating a ZK-EVM that supports all EVM opcodes. The primary goal of Taiko as a type-1 ZK-EVM is to emphasize Ethereum-equivalence over the speed of ZK-proof generation. The term "type-1" originates from the fact that these ZK-EVMs introduce no alterations to the Ethereum framework, including hash functions, state trees, or gas expenses. This compatibility enables the reuse of execution clients with minimal adjustments.

type1 zkevm

Source: Taiko

The main benefit of this is that developers can deploy their existing Ethereum dApps on Taiko without any modifications while still running smoothly on Taiko, saving developer time and attracting existing EVM developers. 

There are three main components to Taiko's technical structure: the ZK-EVM circuits (for proof generation), the Layer 2 rollup node (for managing the rollup chain), and the protocol on L1 (for connecting these two parts together for rollup protocol verification). These components work together to ensure seamless compatibility with Ethereum L1, providing developers and users with a familiar experience.

zkevm

Source: Taiko

 

Such high-level compatibility eliminates the need for developers to rewrite their dApps, saving time and effort while ensuring a smooth transition, improving the adoption of Taiko amongst developers. This focus on compatibility is what sets Taiko apart from other ZK-EVMs in the market as not all ZK-EVMs allow for EVM code to work without changes. 

Furthermore, Taiko aims to scale Ethereum while preserving its technical and fundamental principles, making it a promising solution for the future growth of the blockchain ecosystem. 

High Speed And Scalability With ZK Rollups 

Taiko utilizes ZK-Rollup technology to improve transaction throughput and reduce fees. ZK-rollups use cryptographic proofs to validate transactions, making them more efficient and secure compared to traditional optimistic rollups. 

On top of faster speed, ZK rollups also allow Taiko to scale better by maintaining the state of all L2 transfers with minimal data, simplifying block validation and data transfer to L1. This means Taiko can accommodate a growing number of users and transactions, making it an attractive option for developers and users looking for a scalable blockchain.

Security And Decentralization 

To prove that Taiko prioritizes security and decentralization, they are aiming to launch with a fully decentralized proposer and prover set (aka sequencer and validator), allowing anyone to perform those duties without restrictions. 

L2 rollups

Source: L2beat.com 

As shown in the image above, a properly decentralized rollup with decentralized proposers and provers would say "Propose Blocks" in the Sequencer and Validator Failure columns so that it is highly accessible for users to operate. Currently none of the L2s satisfies both, and so these are are not fully decentralized L2s.

Taiko’s approach is to not whitelist any parties, and allow anyone to propose blocks. To go further, Taiko plans to be leaderless and be completely community driven. It will start from a completely decentralized structure and moving towards a more centralized one if necessary. Taiko's governance will gradually be transferred to the Taiko DAO, with more details to be discussed in future posts.

Decentralization is an essential aspect of Ethereum-equivalence, and by taking the above steps, Taiko prioritizes it to ensure the network's censorship-resistance and liveness. By maintaining these core principles, Taiko offers a robust foundation for building and deploying dApps while staying true to the core values of the Ethereum ecosystem.

Taiko Is Fully Open-sourced

On top of all these, Taiko is also fully open sourced with its code available on GitHub. It primarily uses the permissive MIT license, except for its minimally modified geth fork, which retains the original GPL license. The project includes protocol smart contracts, L2 node software, and ZK-EVM circuits, all of which are open for unrestricted participation.

The main difference between the MIT and GPL licenses is the level of restriction on developers. MIT allows for more freedom, only requiring the retention of copyright and permission notice, while GPL enforces stricter rules, such as converting the entire project under the GPL license.

Taiko chose the MIT license to prioritize compatibility and simplicity, making it easier for others to use their codebase and increasing opportunities for collaboration. Although GPL can provide additional user protection, Taiko values inclusivity and accessibility, striving to maintain transparency and ensure user freedom.

Roadmap

Taiko has just ended their alpha testnet 1 and 2 which is primarily focused on having permissionless proposers and provers respectively. 

Their upcoming milestones include more alpha testnets with more zero-knowledge proof features and also more dapps where we will start to see their ecosystem forming.  

taiko roadmap

Source: Taiko

Conclusion

The well-known blockchain trilemma states that it is only possible to achieve two out of three attributes: decentralization, security, and scalability. However, Ethereum-equivalent ZK rollups enable the selection of all three components without any compromise on scaling.

Taiko is looking to solve the issue of Ethereum scaling while preserving a familiar Ethereum experience for its users and developers. It is a promising decentralized Layer 2 blockchain protocol leveraging Zero Knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (ZK-EVM) and ZK rollups. As a fully Ethereum-equivalent ZK-Rollup, Taiko aims to maintain decentralization, security, compatibility, and simplicity in order to attract more developers and users.

Taiko’s main focus is having complete Ethereum compatibility, allowing developers to deploy existing dApps without modification, high speed and scalability through ZK-Rollup technology, as well as a commitment to being a secure and decentralization L2 for Ethereum. Furthermore, Taiko is fully open-sourced, primarily using the MIT license to encourage collaboration and transparency.

With the alpha testnet already in progress, Taiko is well on its way to becoming a highly accessible and user-friendly platform for Ethereum developers and users alike.

By staying true to Ethereum's core values and providing a scalable, efficient platform, Taiko has the potential to significantly impact the future growth of the blockchain ecosystem.

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CJ
CJ
CJ is a business graduate that has been involved in crypto for 4 years and specializes in DeFi protocols. He is also interested in TradFi becoming DeFi, and has written for ByBit, SwitcheoLabs, and others. Follow the author on Twitter @fishmarketacad

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