Ethereum developers are trying to find the best way to scale the network. However, this has proven to be a difficult task. The possible solutions to solve these issues do not seem so obvious as it was previously thought.
One of the main implementations that Ethereum developers were discussing was Plasma. This solution seemed to be the best for Ethereum’s short-term scaling issues. This is why developers were able to build five different versions of this specific protocol.
Nevertheless, things are not going on as planned. Plasma is not working as originally expected. This is why researchers are now paying attention to zk-snarks. This is a solution that has been implemented by the popular virtual currency ZCash (ZEC). It allows developers to aggregate transactions into batches.
Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder, said that it could allow the network to achieve 500 transactions a second in the near future. This could be a good solution to scale the network in the short term. In this way, developers would have enough time to work on the long-term solution known as Serenity or Ethereum 2.0.
During a conversation with CoinDesk, Gnosis CTO, Stefan George, said that zero-knowledge is a great tool for scaling the network.
About it, he said:
“More and more people understand what the possibilities are. Even beyond zero-knowledge, it’s also a great scalability tool that ethereum is missing and we can use it without waiting.”
Back in April 2017, Buterin and Joseph Poon proposed the Plasma solution. It is important to mention that Joseph Poon is the co-author of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) white paper. The intention was the scale the network using smart contracts computation of the main ethereum blockchain.
The ‘minimum viable plasma’ implementation has a bad user interface and it can be vulnerable to congestion in the network. David Knott, a plasma researcher for OmiseGo, explained the audience at Devcoin4 that Plasma Cash is difficult for users and developers to interact with since it relies on non-fungible tokens.
At the same time, Kelvin Fichter, a plasma researcher for OmiseGo, said that Plasma is a confusing term. According to him, nobody knows what Plasma is or how it works since researchers have an opinion about it, and the paper shows a different thing.
This is why Fichter said that there should be a generalized plasma combining elements from all different technicians. In the next years, this solution could be a reality, but not in the short term. Plasma will be difficult to be implemented because they work in a very difficult way compared to zk-snarks that are very well designed.
The architecture behind zk-snarks is quite elegant and very simple, according to George.
Additionally, he mentioned that using Plasma might involve a higher centralization in order to process more transactions. This is something that could be harmful to the ecosystem from a regulatory point of view.
Fichter has also explained that Plasma’s problems and challenges could be solved using snark technology. The new term that he introduced is ‘plapps’ and makes reference to decentralized applications that run on Plasma. These apps could rely on snarks in terms of how to verify transactions on the blockchain.
Although there is nothing decided, Ethereum’s scalability issues could be solved using snark technology.