Taiko, an innovative Ethereum-equivalent Zero-Knowledge Rollup (ZK-Rollup), leverages both technical and non-technical aspects of Ethereum to achieve scalable solutions, thereby transcending the traditional boundaries of blockchain technology. This expansion takes place through a decentralised, permissionless, and secure layer-2 architecture, accommodating all Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) opcodes.
Ethereum has pioneered a revolutionary stride in mechanisms enabling human coordination and personal freedom. As a universally accessible, credibly neutral settlement layer, Ethereum underscores robust digital ownership rights, facilitating value transfer at will. Ethereum undergirds an internet of value, creating a fluid network unmatched since the advent of the internet itself.
The innovative potential of Ethereum is seen in the creative freedom it offers developers. The ability to deploy smart contracts and applications to an omnipresent, always-accessible, borderless computer underscores the remarkable power of this blockchain platform. Such creativity is unbounded, facilitating seamless value creation.
To accomplish this, Ethereum prioritises specific blockchain attributes over others - primarily, decentralization and security take precedence over scalability. If a public blockchain lacks decentralization and security, it fails to maintain credible neutrality, rendering it unappealing for highly-valuable, highly-critical functions. However, without scalability, a public blockchain cannot accommodate large swathes of developers, users, and use cases due to high transaction fees and low throughput.
Ethereum's capacity for global impact necessitates scalability to match the human population, allowing anyone who wishes to participate. Rollups have emerged as a promising scaling solution, with Ethereum-equivalent ZK-Rollups standing as the most promising variant. It is in this context that Taiko positions itself.
Taiko aspires to be a fully Ethereum-equivalent ZK-Rollup, scaling Ethereum in a way that closely mirrors Ethereum's technical and principles-level attributes.
ZK-Rollups facilitate computational scalability by executing, aggregating, and proving transactions off-chain, while relying on Ethereum for data availability and proof verification validity. The primary drawback of current ZK-Rollups in production is their inability to support the generalized computation of the EVM, restricting them mostly to application-specific tasks. This limitation breaks compatibility with existing Ethereum L1 smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps), hindering the development of new applications that provide the same composable, expressive experiences.
Ethereum-equivalent ZK-Rollups, or ZK-EVMs, represent the ideal layer-2 scaling solution, offering uncompromised security and compatibility. In recent parlance, Taiko aspires to become a type-1 ZK-EVM, prioritizing perfect EVM/Ethereum-equivalence over ZK-proof generation speed.
The Taiko system comprises three primary components: the ZK-EVM circuits (for proof generation), the L2 rollup node (for managing the rollup chain), and the protocol on L1 (for connecting these two components for rollup protocol verification).
The ZK-EVM ensures the correctness of EVM computations on the rollup with validity proofs. Taiko allows Ethereum smart contracts to run without any alterations, enabling developers to migrate their existing Ethereum smart contracts and full dApps to Taiko easily or implement their new Solidity code on Taiko as their primary environment. Taiko's ZK-EVM supports every EVM opcode, producing a validity proof of the ZK-EVM circuit. This compatibility extends to all Ethereum and Solidity tooling, eliminating the need to disrupt developers' workflow.
Taiko’s Layer-2 Rollup Node
The second key component of Taiko is its Layer-2 rollup node. These nodes retrieve transaction data from the Ethereum network and execute these transactions on Layer-2. This process advances the state according to the transaction executions, effectively managing the rollup chain. As of now, Taiko's node is derived from Ethereum's Geth client.
The Taiko Protocol is the blueprint that outlines and enforces the rules of the rollup and defines potential participants. The protocol design upholds the fundamental principles of security, decentralization, and permissionless-ness. The smart contracts deployed on Ethereum Layer-1 serve dual purposes; they function as the data availability mechanism and as a verifier of the ZK-SNARK proofs. A smart contract deployed on Taiko Layer-2 performs certain essential protocol functions, which are explained in our whitepaper.
In the context of the network participants within this architecture, we can distinguish three distinct roles:
Proposers: These participants construct rollup blocks from users’ Layer-2 transactions and propose them to Layer-1. Any participant can undertake this block creation function.
Provers: These participants generate ZK-SNARK proofs that assert the validity of Layer-2 transactions and blocks from the aforementioned proposed blocks. Any participant can undertake this proving function.
Node runners: These participants execute transactions from on-chain data to synchronize with the state of the chain. While both Proposers and Provers need to run nodes to fulfill their respective roles, other actors, such as those offering services like a block explorer and node infrastructure providers, would also run nodes. Any participant can run Taiko nodes.
The Taiko Process
Blocks in the Taiko Layer-2 blockchain consist of collections of transactions that are executed sequentially. New blocks can be appended to the chain to update its state, which can be calculated by following the protocol rules for the transaction executions.
Block submission is divided into two parts:
Block Proposal: A block is proposed, with the block data published on Ethereum, and the block is appended to the proposed blocks list in the TaikoL1 contract. The protocol ensures the block is immutable at this point, meaning the block execution is deterministic, and so anyone can calculate the post-execution chain state. We refer to a block and all enclosed transactions at such point as finalized. A notable feature in a proposed block on Layer-1 is that there may be invalid transactions that will be skipped over by Taiko Layer-2 nodes. This feature allows for fault-tolerance while multiple blocks are proposed simultaneously.
Block Verification: As all proposed blocks are deterministic, blocks can be proven in parallel since all intermediate states between blocks are known. Once a proof is verified for the block and its correctly-linked parent block is on-chain finalized, we mark the block as on-chain finalized.
A fundamental requirement of the protocol is that all data necessary to reconstruct the current state, and thus to create and append new blocks, is publicly available on Ethereum. Additionally, provers can generate proofs for a block using only public data on Ethereum. It is these facts, relying on Ethereum public data and giving all would-be participants a fair playing field, that makes Taiko’s Layer-2 decentralized.
Challenges and Trade-offs
It is a well-established fact that the EVM was not designed to run in a ZK-circuit. Numerous aspects of EVM computation, Ethereum data structures, and embedded cryptography are ZK-SNARK-unfriendly and inefficient (slow) to prove. Overcoming these challenges has been the aim of diligent engineering and cryptographic innovation. Taiko attempts to strike a balance between maintaining as much Ethereum compatibility as possible while making necessary adjustments to ensure the viability of the ZK rollup.
Several modifications were made to the Ethereum protocol to adapt it for the Taiko architecture. For instance, gas fees have been restructured to accommodate the unique computational constraints of ZK-SNARKs. Certain features of the EVM have been limited or omitted entirely, such as some pre-compiled contracts and Ethereum's block gas limit. While these changes could impact compatibility with some existing Ethereum smart contracts, they are necessary to ensure that Taiko's Layer-2 can operate efficiently and securely.
Furthermore, the need to publicly post all transaction data on Ethereum for data availability comes with a significant cost. This has been mitigated by using efficient data compression techniques, but it still presents a trade-off between scalability and cost. However, despite these challenges, the benefits of Taiko's Layer-2 solution are significant. It offers vastly increased transaction throughput and speed, while maintaining a strong degree of compatibility with Ethereum and its ecosystem of decentralized applications. It also ensures a high level of security and decentralization by inheriting the robust security of the Ethereum Layer-1 and by making all data and state transitions publicly verifiable.
Taiko is a project that evolves with the wider Ethereum ecosystem. As new cryptographic primitives and scaling solutions become available, we aim to integrate these improvements into the Taiko protocol.
Upcoming developments include enhancing the compatibility with Ethereum, so that even more existing smart contracts can be ported to Taiko without modifications. We also aim to further improve the efficiency of our ZK proofs and data compression techniques, allowing us to increase throughput and reduce costs even further.
In the longer term, we are exploring potential cross-chain interoperability features, allowing Taiko to interact with other Layer-1 and Layer-2 blockchains. This could open up a host of new possibilities for developers and users alike, such as cross-chain decentralized applications and asset transfers.
Today the Extended Taiko Team covers 21 countries all over the world.
Within the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors, the Taiko team possesses a rich reservoir of experience. At the forefront is Daniel Wang, a seasoned entrepreneur with a history of success, and a scholar esteemed for his work in the field of zero-knowledge proofs. United in their commitment to creating a secure, scalable, and user-friendly ZK-Rollup, the Taiko team shares a deep-seated passion for the transformative potential of blockchain technology and its capability to revolutionize our interactions with the world. A significant milestone they anticipate is their project's impactful role in the future trajectory of Ethereum and the larger blockchain ecosystem.
Significantly, the team also boasts the advisory expertise of none other than Vitalik Buterin, the prodigious co-founder of Ethereum. His advisory role is not just a title, but an active engagement that enriches the Taiko project with his unparalleled insight and profound understanding of the blockchain space.
Promoting transparency and accountability, the Taiko team has shared an extensive whitepaper outlining the project's technical framework and future roadmap. They also maintain a public blog, regularly updating their community on the project's progression. Furthermore, they actively participate and contribute to the Ethereum community, engaging in meetups and conferences. The Taiko team harbors a firm belief in the potential of their project to catalyze substantial changes within the blockchain industry. They remain devoted to developing a secure, scalable, and user-friendly ZK-Rollup that will significantly contribute to accelerating Ethereum's adoption.
Taiko's Layer-2 rollup is an innovative solution that seeks to address the scalability issues currently facing the Ethereum network. By harnessing the power of ZK-SNARKs and the security of Ethereum's Layer-1, Taiko provides a scalable, secure, and decentralized platform for building and running decentralized applications. While there are trade-offs and challenges involved, we believe that the benefits of our solution make it a promising avenue for the future development of the Ethereum ecosystem.
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