Paper 2023/1503

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

Jens Ernstberger, Technical University of Munich
Stefanos Chaliasos, Imperial College London
George Kadianakis, Ethereum Foundation
Sebastian Steinhorst, Technical University of Munich
Philipp Jovanovic, University College London
Arthur Gervais, University College London
Benjamin Livshits, Imperial College London
Michele Orrù, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs), especially Succinct Non-interactive ARguments of Knowledge (SNARKs), have garnered significant attention in modern cryptographic applications. Given the multitude of emerging tools and libraries, assessing their strengths and weaknesses is nuanced and time-consuming. Often, claimed results are generated in isolation, and omissions in details render them irreproducible. The lack of comprehensive benchmarks, guidelines, and support frameworks to navigate the ZKP landscape effectively is a major barrier in the development of ZKP applications. In response to this need, we introduce zk-Bench, the first benchmarking framework and estimator tool designed for performance evaluation of public-key cryptography, with a specific focus on practical assessment of general-purpose ZKP systems. To simplify navigating the complex set of metrics and qualitative properties, we offer a comprehensive open-source evaluation platform, which enables the rigorous dissection and analysis of tools for ZKP development to uncover their trade-offs throughout the entire development stack; from low-level arithmetic libraries, to high-level tools for SNARK development. Using zk-Bench, we (i) collect data across $13$ different elliptic curves implemented across $9$ libraries, (ii) evaluate $5$ tools for ZKP development and (iii) provide a tool for estimating cryptographic protocols, instantiated for the $\mathcal{P}\mathfrak{lon}\mathcal{K}$ proof system, achieving an accuracy of 6 − 32% for ZKP circuits with up to millions of gates. By evaluating zk-Bench for various hardware configurations, we find that certain tools for ZKP development favor compute-optimized hardware, while others benefit from memory-optimized hardware. We observed performance enhancements of up to $40$ % for memory-optimized configurations and $50$ % for compute-optimized configurations, contingent on the specific ZKP development tool utilized.

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jens ernstberger @ tum de
s chaliasos21 @ imperial ac uk
george kadianakis @ ethereum org
sebastian steinhorst @ tum de
p jovanovic @ ucl ac uk
arthur @ gervais cc
b livshits @ imperial ac uk
michele @ tumbolandia net
2023-10-03: approved
2023-10-02: received
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      author = {Jens Ernstberger and Stefanos Chaliasos and George Kadianakis and Sebastian Steinhorst and Philipp Jovanovic and Arthur Gervais and Benjamin Livshits and Michele Orrù},
      title = {zk-Bench: A Toolset for Comparative Evaluation and Performance Benchmarking of SNARKs},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2023/1503},
      year = {2023},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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