In a wave of recent developments, numerous formidable crypto enterprises, including Coinbase, Binance, and a16z, are attempting to set up their proprietary “layer-2” blockchain networks using OP Stack. Originating from the minds who created Optimism, OP Stack provides the crucial building blocks for these new platforms. This trend may seem out of the blue, given the widespread belief among Ethereum enthusiasts that the most promising layer-2 solutions will emerge not from optimistic rollup technology underlying OP Stack, but from a distinct arrangement referred to as “ZK rollups,” supported by zero-knowledge cryptography.
One crucial point of divergence is transaction finalization speed. Where ZK rollups seal the deal almost instantly, optimistic rollups may demand anywhere from minutes to days. This rift between recent commercial performance and the prevailing futuristic vision prompts the inquiry— is OP Stack just a stopgap measure for organizations eager to develop their layer-2 blockchains now, all while foreseeing an eventual industry shift towards ZK technology? Or, does it indicate an overlooked discrepancy in the widespread notion that ZK technology will rule the roost over the long haul?
According to Mikhail Komarov, CEO of Nil Foundation, in the long game, ZK rollups still outscore for Ethereum scaling. The current favor towards the OP stack could simply be its ease of setup, negating the need for a complex ZK team. However, as easier ways to implement a ZK-rollup stack surface, firms are expected to gravitate towards it.
Furthermore, long-timers like Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, believe ZK-oriented rollups will surpass their optimistic counterparts in popularity despite a shorter history. Yet, a fair share of recent launches, such as Coinbase’s Base layer 2 and a16z’s rollup client solution, have employed Optimism’s OP Stack. This also includes Binance’s BNB chain, which works off an Ethereum-compatible testnet blockchain leveraging the stack’s technology.
It’s critical to keep in mind that while they do promise game-changing potential, ZK rollups aren’t without their complications. ZK-based constructs demand advanced hardware and high energy consumption due to the complexity and computational intensity involved, a distinct drawback that optimistic rollups avoid.
Lastly, while an absence of fraud proofs has sparked criticism about Optimism’s mainnet security, OP labs, the organization behind Optimism, assures they support multiple proof systems, including fraud and validity proofs. As a result, developers using the OP stack can alternate between proofs used in optimistic or ZK rollups as per their needs. Only time will reveal which approach prevails as ZK-based blockchain frameworks mature and enter the market.