Optimism vs. Arbitrum vs. Polygon zkEVM vs. zkSync Era: Ultimate Comparative Analysis of Ethereum Layer 2 Rollup Solutions

Ethereum has become the go-to platform for decentralized applications (dApps), but as the most popular decentralized app development platform grew, its success has become its biggest problem in the form of network congestion, slow transaction times, and high gas fees.

Ethereum Layer 2 solutions aim to address these issues by offering increased scalability and cost reduction through various methods. In this blog post, we will explore and provide a comprehensive comparison of four popular Ethereum Layer 2 rollup solutions: Optimism, Arbitrum, Polygon zkEVM, and zkSync Era.

Read further: What are Layer 2s and Who Will Win the Ethereum Scaling War?


🪙 Token: $OP

💰 Market Cap: $737M

🔒 TVL: $946M
(As of 11 April 2023)

Optimism is an Ethereum Layer 2 solution based on Optimistic Rollups, which aggregate multiple transactions together and submit them as a single transaction on the Ethereum mainnet to validate the blockchain state. Optimism uses a validation mechanism known as single-round fraud-proof. This improves transaction throughput and virtually makes the transaction time almost instantaneous.

Pros of Optimism include:

  • EVM compatibility
  • Smart contract support with minimal changes
  • Increased transaction throughput

However, there are some cons to consider:

  • Longer withdrawal times
  • Limited data handling capabilities
  • High dependency on EVM — single coding language ‘Solidity’ support


🪙 Token: $ARB

💰 Market Cap: $1.5B

🔒 TVL: $2.27B
(as of 11 April 2023)

Similar to Optimism, Arbitrum is an Ethereum Layer 2 solution based on Optimistic Rollups. It uses the Arbitrum Virtual Machine (AVM) to execute smart contracts, offering improved transaction throughput and reduced gas costs. What sets Arbitrum apart from Optimism is that it uses a validation mechanism known as multi-round fraud-proof, which supposedly improves the security of the network.

Arbitrum's pros include:

  • High compatibility with EVM - Multi-language support 
  • Arbitrary smart contract support with minimal changes
  • Improved transaction throughput
  • High security

On the downside, Arbitrum has:

  • Slow transaction finality

Polygon zkEVM

🪙 Token: $MATIC

💰 Market Cap: $10.29B

🔒 TVL: $1.4M
(As of 11 April 2023)

Polygon zkEVM is a source-available ZK-Rollup Layer-2 solution based on Zero-Knowledge (zk) Rollups. It employs zero-knowledge proofs zkSNARKs scalability, security, and efficiency. It comes with full EVM compatibility, allowing existing Ethereum applications to run and making it easy for developers to integrate their projects on the zkEVM platform.

Pros of Polygon zkEVM are:

  • Better security compared to optimistic rollups
  • EVM compatibility
  • High transaction throughput
  • Shorter withdrawal times

However, it also has some cons, which includes:

  • Complex technology

You can learn more about Polygon zkEVM here.

zkSync Era

🪙 Token: $ZKS (yet to launch)

💰 Market Cap: NA

🔒 TVL: $103M
(As of 11 April 2023)

zkSync Era is another Layer 2 scaling solution that leverages zero-knowledge proofs for efficient transaction processing on Ethereum. Like Polygon zkEVM, zkSync aims to provide Ethereum users and developers with a high-performance environment.

It focuses on providing fast and secure transactions with low fees, using its own VM called zkEVM, which is not yet fully compatible with Ethereum's EVM.

Advantages of zkSync include:

  • High transaction throughput and low fees
  • Better security compared to optimistic rollups
  • Shorter withdrawal times

Disadvantages of zkSync are:

  • Limited smart contract support
  • Limited EVM compatibility

zk-Rollups and Polygon zkEVM vs zkSync: https://www.auroblocks.com/blog/how-zkevm-works-types-of-zkevms-and-polygon-zkevm-vs-zksync

zk-Rollups vs Optimistic Rollups: www.auroblocks.com/blog/zk-rollups-vs-optimistic-rollups-which-is-the-best-solution-for-ethereum-scalability-and-privacy

Comparison of Ethereum Layer 2 Rollup Solutions

When comparing these Layer 2 rollup solutions, it's essential to consider factors such as scalability and transaction throughput, security and consensus mechanisms, ecosystem support and adoption, smart contract compatibility, and developer experience.

Additionally, withdrawal times and user experience play an important role in choosing the right solution for your needs.

The table below compares these layer-2 solutions on various factors –

Table: Optimism vs. Arbitrum vs. Polygon zkEVM vs. zkSync Era





Use Cases and Real-World Applications

Layer 2 rollup solutions offer significant advantages across various industries, including:

Decentralized finance (DeFi)

Faster and more affordable transactions can unlock new opportunities in lending, borrowing, and trading.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

Reduced gas fees and increased scalability make NFT minting, trading, and ownership more accessible.

Gaming and virtual worlds

Layer 2 solutions can power blockchain gaming by offering smoother in-game transactions and asset management.

Enterprise applications

Layer 2 solutions can enable businesses to integrate blockchain technology into their operations with improved efficiency and lower costs.

Closing Thoughts

Each of the Ethereum Layer 2 rollup solutions - Optimism, Arbitrum, Polygon zkEVM, and zkSync Era - has its advantages and disadvantages without any of them being objectively superior.

The best choice depends on the specific requirements of your project, such as transaction throughput, security, and smart contract compatibility. As these both technologies – zk-Rollups and Optimistic Rollups, and these four protocols — Optimism, Arbitrum, Polygon zkEVM, and zkSync Era, continue to evolve, it's crucial to stay informed and adapt accordingly to leverage the potential of Ethereum Layer 2 rollup solutions for a more scalable, secure, and cost-effective blockchain ecosystem.

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