Is it Zero Knowledge hardware season?

Feb 16, 2024

Last week, well known Ethereum bull Justin Drake tweeted something that caught crypto Twitter’s attention: a new ASIC chip.

What is it? The chip is designed for computing zero knowledge proofs, similar in concept to how Bitcoin ASICs run SHA-256 computations.

Who would want this? Since 2020 at the very least, multiple Ethereum projects–and increasingly Bitcoin projects–have started identifying the Zero Knowledge space as the next frontier of both privacy and scalability. Particularly, ZK-based rollups allow for computation of a transaction history’s accuracy and validity when settled from an L2 to an L1.

In other words, a ZK-proof (or something similar) can be used to prove that the L2 is not cheating users before it settles to Bitcoin, Ethereum or another chain–a big win for blockchain throughput.

Okay, name some projects? Scroll, Aztec, Aleo, zkSync and Linea are the best known names in this game as of now, but there’s a ton of ZK-projects out there.

What’s next? Most ZK projects are in the beginning of tape out, if not deep R&D. It’s a highly speculative bet with a handful of players looking for room with chip manufacturers, a process that normally takes deep relationships and capital. That being said, the aforementioned projects have a lot of hype and backing, such as with Aleo and Bitmain.

A world with ZK-hardware doesn’t necessarily mean a world full of people using private, scalable L2s. We still need people to onboard to these systems, which would be quite the feat. Still, getting tape out space shows capital allocators are taking the ZK-space seriously.

Be on the lookout for more ZK-hardware coverage from Blockspace in The Mining Pod here soon.

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