Blockdaemon Blog

A New Benchmark Framework in Cryptographic Performance

Nov 10, 2023
SNARKs are key in blockchain for secure, quick data verification. zk-Bench evaluates SNARKs, enhancing blockchain interoperability and efficiency, read to find out why.

Succinct Non-interactive Arguments of Knowledge (SNARKs) stand at the forefront of blockchain innovation. These cryptographic protocols enable the verification of vast amounts of information quickly and securely without revealing the data itself. Their role is crucial in creating seamless bridges between disparate blockchain networks, which is a cornerstone for interoperability in the blockchain ecosystem, an area we are actively working on.

The quest for optimizing SNARKs has led to the development of zk-Bench

The motivation behind zk-Bench is clear: to provide a robust framework for analyzing and improving the performance of SNARKs. As institutions gravitate towards blockchain technology, the demand for precise, efficient cryptographic tools becomes undeniable.

With a meticulous focus on comparative evaluation, zk-Bench could potentially revolutionize how institutions leverage zero-knowledge proofs for robust and scalable blockchain applications.


Title: zk-Bench: A Toolset for Comparative Evaluation and Performance Benchmarking of SNARKs

Authors: Jens Ernstberger, Stefanos Chaliasos, George Kadianakis, Sebastian Steinhorst, Philipp Jovanovic, Arthur Gervais, Benjamin Livshits, Michele Orrù

Paper source:

Harmonia & DendrETH: Innovations in Cross-Chain Applications

Blockdaemon’s Harmonia is a cutting-edge framework designed for building decentralized cross-chain applications with a focus on robustness, security, and efficiency. This paper is about to be released. 

Central to Harmonia is DendrETH, a decentralized and efficient zero-knowledge proof-based light client. DendrETH addresses security concerns by minimizing the attack surface and leveraging the inherent properties of zero-knowledge proofs.

DendrETH, in Harmonia's architecture, implements an enhanced version of Ethereum's light client sync protocol. It rectifies known security vulnerabilities while operating as a smart contract. This allows blockchains to verify a source blockchain's state in a trust-minimized manner, enabling secure cross-chain functionalities such as asset and data transfers.

Our approach is compatible with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) based chains and select non-EVM chains, offering an open-source, reproducible environment for research and practical application. This compatibility is crucial, as it aligns with zk-Bench’s objective of providing a performance benchmark across various cryptographic systems, including those used in Harmonia and DendrETH.

The Potential Relevance of zk-Bench to Harmonia and DendrETH

zk-Bench could potentially serve as an essential tool for analyzing the performance of the cryptographic elements within Harmonia and DendrETH. 

By benchmarking the efficiency and security of the zero-knowledge proofs used, zk-Bench could aid in optimizing these projects for better interoperability and reliability. This would ensure that Harmonia and DendrETH not only meet current standards but also adapt to evolving demands in blockchain technology.

zk-Bench has the potential to play a role in the ongoing development and refinement of Harmonia and DendrETH. It provides valuable insights into performance metrics, guiding our efforts to enhance cross-chain interoperability in a secure, efficient, and decentralized manner.

zk-Bench Framework Explained

zk-Bench marks a significant advancement in the field of zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs). This framework contributes by providing a standardized suite of benchmarks. It assesses the performance of various ZKP schemes, focusing on SNARK generation times, proof sizes, and verification times. Institutions can leverage zk-Bench to determine the most suitable ZKP solutions for their systems, aligning with their priorities of efficiency, speed, and security.

The Architecture of zk-Bench

The paper highlights a detailed process of SNARK generation that zk-Bench evaluates. It begins with the setup phase where a trusted setup is established. Next, the computation is compiled into a circuit, forming the crux of the SNARK generation. zk-Bench then measures the time taken to create proofs, which involves transforming the circuit into a proof that verifies the correctness of a computation without revealing its details. Finally, it assesses the verification time—the speed at which a proof can be verified as true or false.

Let’s dive into each step in more detail. 

zk-Bench incorporates a Rank-1 Constraint System (R1CS), a framework for expressing computations that SNARKs use to validate statements. 

In essence, R1CS translates problems into mathematical equations that zk-Bench efficiently processes. This translation enables the comparison of various SNARKs on a level playing field, ensuring benchmarks reflect real-world performance.

Dissecting zk-Bench's Core Algorithms


zk-Bench's setup algorithm focuses on initializing the system. It generates public parameters for SNARKs based on the specific computation or 'circuit' the user intends to prove. This phase is critical as it underpins the security and efficiency of the subsequent proofs.


The proving algorithm is where the core of zk-Bench operates. It takes the initial computation, public parameters from the setup, and private inputs to generate a proof. zk-Bench captures the complexity and time required for this generation, which reflects the practicality of using SNARKs in blockchain applications.


Finally, the verification algorithm of zk-Bench takes the spotlight. It assesses the proof against the public parameters and the public inputs. The focus here is on speed and accuracy, ensuring that the verification process is both rapid and failsafe. For institutions, this means trust in the system's ability to authenticate transactions swiftly and with unassailable accuracy.


Performance Analysis Through zk-Bench

Estimating Proof System Runtime

zk-Bench methodically estimates the runtime of various proof systems by executing a series of benchmark tests. These tests measure how long it takes to generate and verify proofs across different SNARK constructions. By running these benchmarks on standard hardware, zk-Bench offers realistic performance insights that institutions can trust.

The Role of Arithmetic Estimation

Arithmetic estimation is a pivotal aspect of zk-Bench’s methodology. It evaluates the computational complexity of operations in a given proof system. The framework calculates the number of field operations — additions, subtractions, multiplications, and divisions — to provide an arithmetic cost estimate. This cost directly correlates with the system's runtime and efficiency, guiding institutions in choosing the most efficient cryptographic proof system for their needs.

Insights and Innovations

Runtime Prediction Advancements

zk-Bench introduces an innovative approach to runtime prediction for ZKPs. It applies empirical analysis to estimate the time needed for complex computations. This method stands out for its ability to forecast performance, helping institutions optimize their systems before deployment. It represents a significant step forward in predictive analytics within cryptographic systems.

Hardware Optimization Findings

The framework's assessment of different hardware setups reveals critical insights. It determines which configurations yield the best performance for specific cryptographic operations. These findings are instrumental for institutions looking to maximize efficiency and speed in their blockchain endeavors. For instance, the use of specialized hardware accelerates proof generation and verification times, which is vital for scalability.

By reviewing these performance metrics, institutions can make evidence-based decisions on hardware investments to support their blockchain infrastructure. This data-driven approach ensures resources are effectively allocated, enhancing the overall robustness of blockchain systems in institutional settings.

Implications for Blockchain Technology

Impact on Project Development

zk-Bench significantly impacts the development of projects such as DendrETH. It offers a robust tool for developers to measure and enhance cryptographic schemes. With zk-Bench, teams can push the boundaries of efficiency and security, ensuring that projects like DendrETH are built on a foundation of rigorously tested cryptographic components.

Benchmarking for Interoperability Decisions

Benchmarking tools like zk-Bench are critical in shaping decisions around cross-chain interoperability. They provide a quantifiable measure of performance, enabling institutions to choose the most efficient and secure interoperability solutions. By identifying the optimal cryptographic protocols, zk-Bench aids in creating seamless and robust cross-chain interactions, which is essential for the fluid integration of blockchain technologies in the institutional landscape.

Final Thoughts

zk-Bench has emerged as a potentially relevant tool for the DendrETH initiative, a project focused on optimizing Ethereum transactions. Our researchers could use zk-Bench to evaluate the DendrETH project, backed by Blockdaemon. 

We have built DendrETH and its applications alongside Metacraft Labs. The academic paper will be published soon, but we have prepared a high-level overview in the meantime. 

The Necessity of Ongoing Performance Evaluation

Continuous performance evaluation stands as a cornerstone in the advancement of blockchain technology. Tools like zk-Bench are not just beneficial but essential for ensuring that blockchain systems remain efficient, secure, and scalable. As the technology evolves, so too must our methods of testing and assessment to maintain trust and performance at the highest level.

Looking Ahead

The landscape of blockchain is ever-changing, and with diligent research and rigorous benchmarking, research helps pave the way for a more interconnected and efficient future in the realm of blockchain and beyond. 

Stay tuned for the developments that will redefine what we consider possible in blockchain interoperability and performance. To book a call with Blockdaemon to discuss any of these insights, or to learn more about our products, click here


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