zkVM Performance Upgrades Roadmap - Q3 2024

Over the last quarter, we have made significant strides in improving the performance of zkVM 1.0. These enhancements not only demonstrate our commitment to innovation but also set clear goals for Q3 and beyond. This blog outlines our recent achievements, upcoming milestones, and competitive benchmarks that position RISC Zero as the most performant zkVM on the market.

Recent Achievements

10x Cost Improvement

As of May 16, 2024, we have achieved a 10x cost improvement since the beginning of Q1. This progress brings us closer to our goal of 20x cost improvement by the end of the year.

Industry-leading Performance

As of recent benchmarking, RISC Zero’s zkVM outperforms competitors by a significant margin in both speed and cost-effectiveness across various workloads. A summary of our competitive benchmarks can be found HERE

Key Areas of Focus


We are working to launch support for the most common accelerator circuits, which can yield significant improvements for specific algorithms and cryptographic operations.

GPU Proving

We are 80% complete with moving all our proving processes to run on the GPU. This transition is expected to yield a performance improvement close to 4x.

Benchmarking Suites

Establishing our benchmarking suites was necessary to measure updates effectively and ensure consistency in performance tracking.

Q3: Upcoming Performance Upgrades

As we continue to advance zkVM 1.0, our focus for Q3 2024 is on implementing key performance upgrades that target various aspects of our system, from GPU optimizations to improved circuit designs, each aimed at delivering significant performance boosts.

Upgrade Est Perf Bump Description
rv32im GPU optimizations 2x-4x GPU improvements targeting our RISC-V circuit
recursion GPU optimizations 2x-4x GPU improvements targeting our recursion circuit
rv32im v2 Circuit 2x+++ A new, more efficient and flexible RISC-V circuit

Q3: Upcoming Accelerator Circuits

Having landed many of the global optimizations we planned for Q1 and Q2 much of our near term effort will be focused on enabling pluggable accelerators or "precompiles" which target common and expensive cryptographic operations for Ethereum and other use cases.

Accelerator Description
RSA Enhances public-private key encryption, widely used in various privacy applications.
Keccak Ethereum’s hash function of choice, used broadly in Eth-friendly merkle proofs and protocols like Zeth.
ECDSA Provides lightning-fast ECDSA signature verification, crucial for secure and efficient digital signatures.
Pairing (KZG, Groth16) Facilitates rollup and Ethereum developers in leveraging gas savings from blobs and EIP-4844.
BLS12-381 Streamlines Ethereum light client consensus proofs, ensuring robust and efficient verification.

Notes: Specific accelerated operations may be improved by more than 10x. However, accelerators are workload specific, so it’s difficult to estimate specific performance improvements.

As we look ahead to the remainder of 2024, the roadmap for zkVM 1.0 is both ambitious and promising. The milestones we've achieved thus far, including significant performance improvements and the development of critical accelerators, lay a strong foundation for the advancements yet to come. With our ongoing transition to GPU proving, the implementation of new circuit versions, and the introduction of specialized accelerator circuits, we are poised to achieve our goal of a 20x cost improvement by EOY. Our commitment to innovation and excellence ensures that RISC Zero remains at the forefront of general-purpose zkVMs. By continuously pushing the boundaries of what is possible, we not only enhance the capabilities of zkVM 1.0 but also set new standards for performance and efficiency in the industry.

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