Zero-knowledge Virtual Machine Tech Developers RISC Zero Raises $40M Series A Led by Blockchain Capital
RISC Zero, developer of general purpose zero-knowledge (ZK) virtual machine technology, has raised $40 million in a Series A round.
The round was led by Blockchain Capital and Bain Capital Crypto.
RISC Zero’s ZK Virtual Machine (zkVM) enables developers to build ZK-powered applications with conventional programming languages such as Rust and C++.
RISC Zero, the developer of general purpose zero-knowledge (ZK) virtual machine technology, has raised $40 million in a Series A round led by Blockchain Capital alongside Bain Capital Crypto, which led the company’s seed round.
The round saw participation from prominent web3 investors including Galaxy Digital, IOSG, RockawayX, Maven 11, Fenbushi Capital, Delphi Digital, Aglaé Ventures, IOBC, Tribute Labs’ Zero Dao, Figment Capital, and Alchemy Ventures.
RISC Zero’s ZK Virtual Machine (zkVM) enables developers to build ZK-powered applications with conventional programming languages such as Rust and C++. By using advanced capabilities like continuations (a mechanism for splitting a large program into several smaller segments that can be computed and proven independently), RISC Zero’s zkVM can execute programs with various levels of complexity and size, allowing for flexibility and scalability in running programs without requiring specialized hardware or setups.
“We’re honored to be supported by all of our incredible capital partners and the visionary leaders and teams that have signed on to help us build this revolution in computing capability. We’re excited to play our part in building a more open and trusted foundation for the future of the internet,” Brian Retford, RISC CEO & co-founder, said in a statement.
The difference between zkVM and zkEVM
zkEVM refers to software that executes a smart contract on Ethereum using the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) bytecode engine and generates proof of a specific computation or transaction, often referred to as a rollup.
On the other hand, RISC Zeross zkVM enables developers to run any type of software that typically runs on a computer, rather than being limited to software designed specifically for Ethereum. This means that programs and applications designed to run on a regular computer can also be executed within the RISC’s zkVM environment, built for general-purpose computing.
For example, the EVM, which is responsible for running smart contracts on Ethereum, can also operate within the zkVM and generate proofs for computations. This flexibility allows for a wider range of software to be run within the zkVM ecosystem.
RISC senior software engineer Tim Zarrell wrote in a blog post that a few teams have already done the above. Zarrell explained: “Odra wrote a proof of concept with SputnikVM, zkPoEX also uses SputnikVM to produce proofs of exploits, and we have an EVM example using revm.”
The revm crate is a tool written in the Rust programming language that interprets EVM code. Similar to other Rust packages, the revm crate is compatible with the RISC Zero zkVM environment.
RISC-V, the underlying architecture of zkVM, does not include built-in features for wallet addresses or other blockchain-specific structures. Its instruction set primarily focuses on operations like data movement and mathematical calculations within memory locations. Although this instruction set may appear quite general, programmers are not required to have expertise in assembly language in order to develop programs for zkVM.
RISC’s Bonsai computing platform
With the latest funding, RISC will bring its Bonsai computing platform – currently in development – to market. Bonsai is a zero-knowledge proof network comprising a collection of tools that can help developers run their programs off-chain using inputs from their smart contract call.
It can also support app development in and deployment in both cloud and decentralized environments, allowing developers to focus on building their apps without worrying about the complexities of proof orchestration and server infrastructure.
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