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Before we can describe what the zkEVM is and how it works, we need to explain a few background concepts. Layer-2 networks on Ethereum are a bit like Parachains on the Polkadot network, but here's how they differ:

The Substrate framework Polkadot is built with is modular, meaning developers are able to customize the features supported by their parachains; often choosing only those required to achieve the goals of their applications.

Although parachains are sovereign networks, they also benefit from the shared security of Polkadot as a whole, allowing them to interoperate with one another seamlessly through a separate, unified mechanism of consensus and finality.

This is unlike Ethereum, where Layer-2 networks, although sharing a common method of finality, do not share a common method of consensus (ie: no shared Sequencers), so cross-chain interoperability and fast withdrawals to other networks are limited.

What do we mean by Monolithic versus Modular blockchains?

Layer-1 Blockchains are monolithic by nature and while each are able to perform four critical functions independently: achieving Consensus amid disputes, Executing transactions, Storing data, and performing Settlement (Finality) it's impossible for any single blockchain to perform them all well without making tradeoffs and running into theoretical limitations. This is where more granular blockchain solutions come in.

By modularizing the blockchain protocol stack, Layer-2 solutions selectively offload functions normally provided by the Layer-1 to highly specialized off-chain workers designed not only to provide an equivalent, but superior experience compared to that of the underlying chain.

Modular blockchain solutions are purpose-built to excel at performing only the functions they are specifically intended for, such as transaction Execution and Data Availability, leaving Settlement to the underlying Layer-1, theoretically advancing the challenges of blockchain scaling past those originally imposed by the blockchain trilemma.

So, what is Astar zkEVM?

Astar zkEVM is a Layer-2 scaling solution leveraging Polygon's zero-knowledge technology and Aggregation Layer (AggLayer) to facilitate off-chain execution and data availability, otherwise known as a Validium, with finality guaranteed by Ethereum. This approach synthesizes the benefits of both fully integrated (monolithic) as well modular architectures, combining the best features of each.

Astar zkEVM serves as a versatile solution for global enterprises, accelerating the adoption of blockchain technology not only in Japan, but on a global scale.

In coordination with our key partners, Astar zkEVM is well-positioned to take advantage of the extensive developer base and well-established toolset existing in the Ethereum ecosystem, and boasts the following key features:

  • Some of the lowest transaction fees in the Ethereum ecosystem - Off-chain transaction batching and data availability provides some of the lowest costs for transacting in the Ethereum ecosystem.
  • Full EVM-equivalence - Smart contracts that work on Ethereum also work on Astar zkEVM. See the smart contract section for more technical information.
  • Native Account Abstraction - The Astar zkEVM provides native features designed to revolutionize the end-user experience and make it seamless. See the Account Abstraction section for more technical information about how to refine the end-user experience.
  • Top-Tier Infrastructure Integrations - Established names and brands that developers trust power the Astar zkEVM. See the integrations section for more information about our 3rd party service providers.
  • Interoperability and Exposure - With Astar zkEVM, we are supporting interoperability between the Ethereum, Polkadot, and Polygon ecosystems, uniting communities through a common vision.
  • Established Tools and Libraries - The zkEVM is compatible with tools and libraries developers already know how to use, such as Remix, Hardhat, and Open Zeppelin.

For more general information, check out the zkEVM FAQ page.