Solana's 'ZK Compression’ Scaling Solution Ignites Controversy

Ethereans argue that ZK Compression is little more than a Layer 2.

By: Mehab Qureshi Loading...

Solana's 'ZK Compression’ Scaling Solution Ignites Controversy

Solana developers are working on zero-knowledge compression, a new scaling technique that promises to significantly reduce on-chain computation costs. However, some in the Ethereum community are calling out its developers for seemingly contradicting Solana’s anti-Layer 2 ethos.

On June 21, Light Protocol, a Solana-based privacy layer, announced it had teamed up with the Solana development team, Helius Labs, to ship the testnet for their new "ZK Compression" scaling solution.

Light Protocol said that ZK Compression enables fee savings or orders of magnitude by using zero-knowledge proofs and calldata — a coding technique borrowed from Ethereum’s recent Dencun upgrade — to minimize the amount of data stored on-chain and thus the computation demand placed on Solana through transactions.

“Only the state roots (fingerprints of all compressed accounts) are stored on-chain,” Light said. “The protocol uses small zero-knowledge proofs to ensure the validity of state that’s stored as calldata on the Solana ledger.”

Mert Mumtaz, the CEO of Helius Labs, estimated that ZK Compression reduces the cost of airdropping tokens to one million users on Solana from $260,000 to $50. “We're introducing ZK compression to Solana, directly on the L1 — without requiring L2s,” he added.

“Developers and users can opt to compress their on-chain state, reducing state costs by orders of magnitude while preserving the security, performance, and composability of the Solana L1,” ZK Compression’s documentation said.

The price of SOL is down 4.77% over the past 24 hours amid a broader market pullback, according to The Defiant’s crypto price feeds.

Solana supporters and Ethereans clash

ZK Compression has garnered support from prominent members of the Solana community.

“Compression on Solana solves one of the key pain points faced by institutions and mass-consumer applications: the cost of on-chain account storage,” tweeted Austin Federa, head of strategy at the Solana Foundation.

“New technologies allow new entrants to leapfrog competition,” said Anatoly Yakovenko, the co-founder of Solana. “If you are a Solana dev, jump on building protocols for compressed tokens… They need marketplaces, mint infra, anchor support, etc.”

However, many prominent voices from the Ethereum community, are accusing ZK Compression’s developer of hypocrisy regarding the Solana community’s anti-Layer 2 ethos, arguing that ZK Compression effectively comprises an L2.

“No matter how loudly Mert shouts… compression is an L2,” tweeted Adam Cochran, vice president of operations at SBT Partners.“One day the Solana crowd will realize what they’ve built is a good L2 feature/validity-based rollup and not a monolith chain.”

"[ZK Compression] is actually an L2,” chimed in Ryan Berckmans, an investor and web3 influencer. “L2s are a winning model.”

Yakovenko replied, acknowledging the similarities and highlighting the differences between ZK Compression’s design and typical Ethereum-based Layer 2s.

“It’s like an L2 without all the things that people complain about L2s,” Yakovenko said. “It’s an L2 that doesn’t need a security council multisig, users don’t need to switch chain IDs, doesn’t need a governance token, doesn’t need an external sequencer, Solana validators still get all the transaction fees.”

However, Emmanuel Awosika, of 2077 Collective, a group of Ethereum builders, emphasized similarities between the architecture of ZK Compression and Facet, an “alternative” Ethereum rollup.

“Facet describes itself as an ‘L1+’, or ‘based sovereign rollup’,” Awosika said. “The underlying ideas of using cheap calldata for storage, persisting state off-chain, and using the L1 for sequencing applying to both ZK Compression and Facet… That many people haven't heard of Facet and the similarities with ZK Compression (‘not an L1, not exactly an L2’) is an indictment of Ethereum's marketing department.”

However, Raoul Pal, the CEO of Real Vision, took a step back and criticized the mud-flinging between Ethereans and Solana supporters.

“Read a lot of midcurve debates on the new Solana ZK Compression,” Pal said. “MOAR Scale. MOAR Cheap… This is a BIG step change for SOL.”

Related: Solana To Ditch Token Burning and Divert 100% Of Priority Fees To Validators