Vitalik Buterin Shares Take on Verkle Trees Coming to Ethereum

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Written By Maya Cantina

Sat, 13/04/2024 – 11:34

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The conversations around Ethereum (ETH) and its data storage for optimal functionality have made it to crypto X with Polygon co-founder Mihailo Bjelic and Vitalik Buterin debating the possibilities. The conversation started with Bjelic posting a question in which he sought to know if developers are sure it is right to switch Ethereum to Verkle trees, given that its zk-fication is quite likely.


Wading into the conversation, Vitalik Buterin said, “ZK-ifying keccak merkle patricia trees with worst case 300 MB witness sizes is a non-starter.” Notably, the Merkle Patricia trees form the current or primary data structure that is being used within the Ethereum blockchain. This data storage structure has its limits, and the plan soon is to replace it with Verkle trees with shorter proofs and increased bandwidth.

To Bjelic, the current structure, according to the capacity of Polygon zkEVM, can handle the 300 MB benchmark noted by Buterin. The Polygon founder noted that the protocol could even do this easily with a total block time of 12 seconds. He, however, acknowledged that for this to work, it would need approximately 10 server-class CPUs.

Buterin’s lasting solution

Per the presentation made by Vitalik Buterin, Merkle trees were not designed to be compatible with ZK technology. However, he noted that Verkle trees with a vector element are designed to help achieve this goal ultimately.

Per the design of the entire Ethereum architecture, ZK protocols are mostly embodied as Layer-2 scaling solutions. While these L2s have better throughput, scalability, gas fees and data storage, Ethereum still battles to keep up with scaling up amid the demand.

To convert Ethereum to a ZK-tech compatible network, Vitalik Buterin highlighted how this can only be achievable using Verkle trees. If this is achieved, ultimately, Ethereum may also benefit from the impacts of the Dencun upgrade in the long term.


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