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zkEVM & Scaling Ethereum LisCon Q&A
Scaling Ethereum with Hermez Network co-founder Jordi
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We caught up with Jordi Baylina, the technical lead for Hermez on the latest developments of their work towards scaling Ethereum with the use of ZK Technology. From their current updates on developing zkvm which is nearing completion in the test environment, the hurdles and computational challenges that face them, to a brief talk about the difference between zk and optimistic rollups, you wouldn't want to miss this layer 2 packed interview.
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EXCLUSIVE Interview with Jordi on How Hermez is Paving the way Towards Scaling Ethereum 💪
At LisCon we spoke with Jordi of Hermez, who shared with us the ongoing ZK rollups projects , as well as development of faster, easier and safer transactions with chain scaling.
Rob asked about the project's goals and Hermez informed that for now, they are focusing on zkEVM.
zkEVM lets you create smart contracts with Ethereum scaling. Hermez is very excited by this development, they feel zkEVM will be significant for scaling Ethereum.
Despite the challenges and complications, Hermez works with an all start roster of contributors and resources to successfully integrate zkEVM.
Rob was interested in the results of zkEVM, comparing the working process to Optimistic rollups and ZK rollups, and he received an awesome answer that indeed, the Optimistic is a very wise chain, that provides proof and trust to the Apps users, but the ZK rollup has a brighter future after overcoming some initial complexities.
DeFi Slate has sufficient evidence that ZK rollup is a trustful ecosystem player, with efficient gas fees and convenient bridging tool.
Hermez confirmed that they have a highly developed proof service that is a central part of their system and this mechanism requires a coordinator. Hermez designs a protocol to be centralized for the coordinator.
They are working on ZK improving, the proof generator is the key because there is a big need to centralize everything.
Also, Hermez notified that for now, they have only one coordinator who works with the ZK users since the current amount of transactions allows them to work only with one person. In the near future, when there will be more transactions, their validators/coordinators team will be amplified.
Hermez’s coordinator responsibilities include very careful checking process for the possibility to make ZK transactions and gas payments: “Make transactions confidently and do not lose your money”. Only once a coordinator gave final proof for making payment, chain manipulations can be processed further.
It was noted that a Hermez along with Polygon brings us more updates, more features, more release… talking about exactly Hermez, they are working hard on technology connected with a blockchain scale, mainstream, transactions at the same time fighting with complications and bringing their innovations in life.
Hermez has theory solution ideas with scaling which they put in practice, they are engineering a face, building strategies and Polygon assists them with putting technologies together and making them scaled. They work with Polygon towards common goals.
During our chatting, it was clear that Hermez is excited with their work, they live by these projects and are happy to have such an opportunity to do smth important in the crypto space.
What is going on DeFI Slate Fam.
ROB: We are at LisCon, and today we are talking to Jordi from Polygon Hermez. We’re excited to talk
JORDI: Hello I am good. Nice to meet you. I am very excited for what’s happening right now.
Rob: It’s a blast right here we’re just talking to so many different projects, and there’s such great energy in the space. We’re just filling up the room with crypto knowledge, and its really cool.
Jordi gave a talk yesterday about what they have got going on at Hermez.
Do you want to give us just a quick summary of what you talked about—leaning into what you are doing at Hermez and what you guys are trying to solve?
Jordi: Yes— at this point we are focussing on solving the ZKVM—it’s a rollup where you can create your smart contracts. So mainly what we are doing is scaling ethereum and getting a rollup where you can put smart contracts there in a way that is fully compatible with Ethereum.
And this is what we are working on right now. We started about 3-4 months ago.
My talk yesterday was about giving them the details of the project in technical terms. Moving forward, we are very excited because I would say that we have no stoppers. We have a lot of pieces built, and we are finishing the last pieces to put them all together. At this point, I think we are going quite fast at this moment, though we have not reached the 95% effectiveness level in checking. But we are very close in having something finished at least in a testing environment. The cool thing is that we have no stoppers and it’s just a matter of building with a lot of work and a lot of tooling and testing programs and more.
Of course there are some challenges. A big limitation we have is computation needs. We are working a lot with super computers, GPUs and more. It’s a non stop process.
Besides that we have everything where we can just put things together to build.
Rob: So it’s functional and in testing with no stoppers as you said— so the focus is just to keep progressing on the path that you’ve played out. Specifically, it’s ZK rollups— ZK compatible transactions that Polygon and Hermez is bringing to Polygon. So what we recently talked about in our last video (LETS LINK the video HERE) about the difference between ZK rollups and some of the different optimistic rollups. Let’s use Polygon as an example— when we’re coming off of the bridge— it takes a week for finality on the maintain. ZK rollups that’s not the case. In the sense that when the transaction is confirmed, there is no review period.
Could you unpack that a little bit more? What are the results of that powerful technology?
Jordi: I would add— the problem is that if you want to be sure that something is confirmed in an optimistic rollup — you need to ‘follow the chain’ — you need to process the transactions against the last transactions.
This also has an impact on scaling. If you want to scale, not everybody has the power to follow all that. With ZK rollups, you also solve the scalability thing because it's not only that you know for sure that something happens, but you can generate the proof that something happens very easily and very fast. This is an important thing that in my opinion makes you think that ZKVM… ZK rollups are the future and the way to go.
Optimistic rollups have the advantage that they don’t need to compute expensive proofs so it’s easier in this case to compute although they have this challenging end, which is complex by itself. At the end it’s our two technologies that work off each other because of the scalability. Like when we are talking about block explorers, transaction processors or sequencers or things like that… they apply to both worlds so there are a lot of technology that’s coming on both sides
And one of our main out of many focusses is the proof generator. This is where the technology is improving a lot.
Rob: Something I found really interesting about the ZK proofs is it unlocks a more trestles ecosystem and when we are crossing the bridge and there is that review process in the ZK rollup mechanisms— who are we trusting and then by removing that piece of trust, are were reaching more capital efficiency, is it more gas efficient? What are the benefits for that which Hermez isa accomplishing as well as the value it’s bringing to the ecosystem?
JORDI: This is one of the big things here at Hermez. What we have here is this big transition of coordinator. So someone has to create this proof. Sometimes in order to do that, we talk about there being a central party. Of course this central party can create the proof, but maybe they can censor things and pick and choose which transactions to approve. So it’s important that we don’t have a centralized coordinator.
Here in Hermez, we designed a protocol to be decentralized in the sense where anybody can become a coordinator. This is one of the big differences we have at Hermez. For the ZKM, we are working on improving the algorithm and will likely publish something in the coming weeks, and we’ll talk about different protocols for simplifying even more as well as this proof generator and coordinator. This is really important for us, because we need to decentralize everything.
Robbie: Right. How many validators and you mentioned coordinators— are those one of the same? And how many of those are on polygon now?
Jordi: Speaking about Hermez specially— Anyone can be a coordinator, but at this moment we have only one. We have one because right now there are not enough transactions to be profitable for coordinators. But the good thing is that if there were to be a higher transaction demand , we could start to bring on coordinators. So there is a strong probability for others to join when it becomes more profitable.
The other thing is that— What if you have money in the L2 and the coordinator decides not to publish and not let you exit. So we have forced transactions, but this means for sure you will be able to create that transaction to exit or do other transfers.
Rob: That may just be an issue while Hermez is young where there are not many validators or transactions. But as there are more transactions, that will bring more validators and the issue of someone not confirming at the right direction or right time gets removed because there are more coordinators.
Jordi: Yes. This is something that will change in the protocol. For example: right now, if coordinators, are not forging blocks, they would lose a lot of money because they have to pay beforehand. They have a huge incentive not to create
Rob: Right. They’re economically incentivized to make the transactions. They’ll lose money if they don’t
Jordi: That’s right. In a new version— the idea is to divide this in two stages so coordinators may delay the final proof but the chain can continue working because you can (aggregate many transactions before you progress). So this is something that we’re working on.
Rob: That’s awesome. Hermez has been shipping consistently. Even with partnerships over time now as well and growing at a rapid pace. The value that Hermez brings to the ecosystem in the sense that Polygon as it exists now has a list of validators and Hermez is able to decentralize that validator role. Anyone can be a coordinator on Hermez, but not everyone can be a validator on Polygon.
Jordi: Yeah. They are two different networks. Hermez is a Layer 2 Rollup running on top of Layer 1. Polygon POS is a different chain right now.
Hermez is working on technology where we can scale blockchains—scale Ethereum in some way. My goal at some point is a signal rollup where all the projects in Ethereum or all the projects in Polygon or xDAI, the multichain —everywhere— many people can work in the same way that Polygon is working right now..
The cool thing about Polygon proof of stake right now is that a lot of projects for (example 2017) were really cool but just stopped because the gas price and so on.
Jordi: The goal is to revive all those projects and start new projects. To go mainstream and start millions of transactions. To do this, we will need new technologies for scaling blockchains. We won’t solve that with single chain.
At Hermez we are working hard on that, and Polygon made huge bet on these technologies and working very hard on helping us make progress. Here is where we are now. When Sandeep (Founder of Polygon) says this is what he wants 1 to 2 billion people working on this— that’s what he means.
It’s good that there are projects. Of course we need projects, but we need those application to scale for millions of people. This requires new technologies and the advancement of Polygon is all about that. It’s about bringing this new technology to the mainstream.
Rob: Yeah. And unlocking the late value that is currently in this multi chain. It’s just floating around but isn’t tapped into yet because we don’t have the throughput that’s able to capture that value.
Jordi: From the technology perspective, we are not there yet. I would say we have the theoretical solution to scaling and the research is finished. We are in this engineering phase, and this is what we are building right now. Brining all this technologies together and making them work and making them scale.
This is the phase we are in. We still have a lot of work to do. It’s not something you can do over the weekend. *Laughs*
Rob: *Laughs* Right
Jordi: We have a lot of work to do and sometimes you run into and solve blockers. It’s an important engineering project. It’s interesting to see a lot of this stuff for yourself. In the space you see all these projects working on it and it would be even better if there were even more projects). If you have more projects working in that direction, it will help us get that technology faster. This is what we are doing. This is our mission at Hermez, and its the mission at Polygon. So we joined forces to work together in that direction.
Rob: Yeah, and that’s really the vision for, in my opinion, the entire blockchain community. It’s scale. Get mass adoption, integrate and unlock all of the possibilities we talked about if you’re involved in crypto every single day— like you said, it doesn’t happen over the weekend, so. You’re working heard every single day at Hermez and it’s showing. It’s really excited to see what you have on Deck
Jordi: Yeah, we are very excited. I can tell you that we at Hermez are all very excited, and this is the project of my life. It’s the most challenging project I’ve ever had, but at the same time, I feel very confident that were are going to complete this project. My whole team— we are very thankful to have the opportunity to work on this, and I’m sure we will do a good job. I hope next year we can talk again at this conference and bring something that is visible and useful.
Rob: Yeah, I hope so too. Right here at LisCon 2022 chatting it up and we’ll talk about how many transactions coordinators there are on Hermez, and we’ ll keep our community— our audience up to date every step of the way
Jordi: Yes, yes.
Rob: Thanks Jordi. Always a pleasure.
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