Zero-knowledge layer-2 scaling solution Starknet is moving closer to full Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatibility with Kakarot, a new testnet coming in August.
Kakarot’s team also announced that it has received support from Ledger co-founder Nicolas Bacca, Starkware and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.
Getting closer to EVM compatibility
Kakarot CEO and co-founder Elias Tazartes said that while Starknet is the leading zero-knowledge aggregation in the Ethereum ecosystem, it lacks Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatibility. Therefore, the barriers to entry are high. Starknet has gained popularity among developers to help scale decentralized applications, transactions, and computation on Ethereum using its native language, Cairo. According to developers on Starknet, Cairo makes it easier and faster to develop, review, and maintain new code. However, Starknet’s lack of compatibility with Ethereum may deter some developers.
“The biggest impact Kakarot can have is making Starknet EVM compatible. Kakarot is now like a Solidity or any language engine. Eventually, you’ll be able to put that engine in Starknet and make it EVM compatible.”
Tazartes revealed that the zkEVM idea was first proposed at the Starkware conference in July 2022. By October, the team was able to get together for a week and start working on the new zkEVM. By December, the project is coded and the team is ready to create a fully functional execution layer. Tazartes also revealed that Buterin invested in Kakarot because of his enthusiasm for a multi-zkEVM approach to building the Ethereum ecosystem.
“For Vitalik, the more zkEVMs the better, because as long as you have a broad diversity of architectures and approaches…then that’s really good for the space as a whole.”
custom virtual machine
Currently, Starknet runs its own custom smart contract virtual machine called the Cairo VM, which leverages Cairo. This means that Starknet does not have direct EVM compatibility out of the box, which could prove to be a significant obstacle moving forward. According to Tazartes,
“Some teams really need to be able to use Solidity. For example, if someone wrote a DEX or an AMM for the Ethereum ecosystem and it’s now audited at 60,000 lines of code, it’s ready, but it’s only on the EVM chain.”
If developers want to use Starknet, they will need to hire a new development team, write and review code, and maintain two code bases. Tazartes described it as “prohibitively expensive”.
Kakarot zkEVM ensures support
The Kakarot zkEVM team also announced on June 2 that it had closed pre-seed financing. Investors in the seed round include Nicolas Bacca, co-founder and vice president of innovation at Ledger, Starkware, a blockchain scaling company, and Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, among others. Kakarot uses STARK proofs for provable transactions and blocks, ensuring security and transparency. With these proofs of validity, Kakarot is able to leverage the security of Ethereum while also offering low costs.
The project roadmap states that in the first phase, Kakarot will become the EVM on Starknet Layer 2, helping to open the door to a range of possibilities and facilitate the expansion of the Starknet ecosystem. In a later stage, Kakarot and Starknet’s Madara sequencer will be merged into a unified stack. This will enable layer 3 zkEVM.According to the team, integrating Madara and Kakarot will help teams deploy ZkEVM AppChain and uses proof of validity to settle transactions on Starknet.
“Gas cost is (asymptotically) exponentially lower than L2 due to computing on another layer, while performance (TPS) is higher. The scalability of rollups can be added and multiplied.”
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