Karakot Rollup: A Little Ethereum, Starkware, Cairo, and Voila!

By Michael @ CryptoEQ | CryptoEQ | 5 Jun 2023

You are reading an excerpt from our free but shortened abridged report! While still packed with incredible research and data, for just $20/month you can upgrade to our FULL library of 50+ reports (including this one) and complete industry-leading analysis on the top crypto assets. 


Becoming a Premium member means enjoying all the perks of a Basic membership PLUS:

  • Full-length CORE Reports: More technical, in-depth research, actionable insights, and potential market alpha for serious crypto users
  • Early access to future CORE ratings: Being early is sometimes just as important as being right!
  • Premium Member CORE+ Reports: Coverage on the top issues pertaining to crypto users like bridge security, layer two solutions, DeFi plays, and more
  • CORE report Audio playback: Don’t want to read? No problem! Listen on the go.


Kakarot zkEVM is an EVM developed in Cairo. It is built on CairoVM, a virtual machine (VM) which forms the cornerstone of Starknet's architecture. This technology underscores Starknet's dedication to facilitating compatibility without sacrificing scalability and performance. This approach sets the precedent for permissionless Validity Rollups with its groundbreaking general-purpose smart contract platform on a fully composable network, which debuted in November 2021.

The Strategic Potential of CairoVM

CairoVM employs a high-level language, Cairo, intended to expedite the creation of Validity Proofs for program executions. Cairo is strategically designed to enable optimized validity proofs where every instruction has a mathematically efficient representation. It serves as a modern, rust-like language for writing provable programs, thus bridging high-level Cairo with Cairo assembly through an intermediate representation known as Sierra.

With the advantage of a newly developed language like Cairo, it is feasible to equip it with attributes that address hitherto unresolved needs and customize it to the specific needs of its intended applications. Cairo’s power to optimize scaling using STARKs extends beyond those who compose their contracts natively in Cairo. Developers are afforded the flexibility to opt for the approach that best suits their needs:

  • Coding natively in Cairo: The introduction of Cairo 1.0 offers developers an ergonomic and secure Rust-inspired language which simplifies the writing of program logic and reduces the risk of errors.

  • Solidity-compatibility: Solidity developers are enabled to write code that can be leveraged by the Cairo VM. This approach echoes the developer experience on Ethereum and enhances the portability of Solidity smart contracts to Starknet. This can be achieved in two ways:

    • Transpiling: The Nethermind team has introduced the Warp transpiler which converts Solidity code into Cairo, facilitating the portability of Solidity smart contracts to Starknet.
    • zkEVM on Starknet: Cairo VM can validate the execution of another VM. Kakarot, a zkEVM written in Cairo, permits the running of Ethereum smart contracts on Starknet. Rather than positioning Cairo VM and zkEVM as competing technologies, they can both be utilized simultaneously.

The primary feature of CairoVM is its ability to express execution as polynomials, which allows for provable execution and validation of all Starknet transactions with STARK.

Driving Innovation with Cairo

StarkNet and StarkEX don't employ Solidity, Ethereum's favored smart contracting language, due to its inefficiency and costliness in encoding to STARKs. Consequently, StarkNet utilizes Cairo, a programming language devised by the team at Starkware. Cairo enables a single verifier to use a single proof to authenticate the integrity of disparate program executions, thus spreading costs across separate dApps.

Originally, Cairo was conceived as an assembly language written in a low-level language. After receiving feedback from developers, Starkware revamped Cairo to be more developer-friendly and has continued to improve it.

The Inner Workings of Cairo

Developers can employ Cairo in CairoVM to express the statement to be proven in high-level language, thus improving the development experience. They can harness the scalability of Zero-Knowledge proofs (ZKPs) without having to master the writing of complex circuits.

Cairo, a language tailored to support STARK programs while also offering general computation capabilities, facilitates the verification of programs written in it. The execution of a Cairo program results in a proof which can then be sent to a prover. This generates a STARK proof of the validity of the instruction or calculation represented by the Cairo program.

Cairo bears structural similarities to WebAssembly (Wasm), which simplifies its use for developers familiar with Wasm. Moreover, Cairo presents a user-friendly development environment inclusive of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) where developers can access a native compiler that translates Cairo code into bytecodes, Cairo-specific Virtual Machines, and debuggers, all within a single program.

The utilization of Cairo significantly reduces Ethereum's computation, transmission, and storage fees. The linking of Cairo code to the smart contract is facilitated by a Shared Prover (SHARP). This involves an off-chain prover, an on-chain smart contract verifier, and an on-chain fact-logger contract. The prover validates the code and sends this proof to the verifier, which then sends a validation of the proof's validity to the fact register. This fact acts as a trustless seal of approval, certifying the validity of the Cairo program. The dApp’s smart contract simply needs to verify this fact's existence and then it can rely on the computation that was performed off-chain.

The Architecture of Kakarot

Kakarot, which is built on CairoVM, is an EVM bytecode interpreter and a Smart Contract (SC) deployed on Starknet. It allows for the deployment of EVM Smart Contracts as is. However, it's not a blockchain or compiler and doesn’t convert Solidity code into Cairo.

The integration of Kakarot and CairoVM in Starknet's ecosystem marks a significant stride in the enhancement of EVM compatibility. It offers promising implications for developers and businesses alike in harnessing the benefits of Validity Rollups and STARKs, driving the further expansion and robustness of the cryptocurrency landscape.

Exploring the Implications of Kakarot and CairoVM

StarkNet's ground-breaking integration of Kakarot and CairoVM, and the resultant enhancement of EVM compatibility, signifies a new era for digital currency investors and users. The robust ecosystem facilitated by these technologies promises a radical overhaul of established industry standards, thereby redefining the crypto investment landscape.

The key to StarkNet's strategic innovation lies in its commitment to a pluralistic coding approach. By enabling developers to opt for either coding natively in Cairo or maintaining Solidity-compatibility, StarkNet effectively maximizes accessibility and usability. This approach encourages a wider acceptance of its platform, by catering to a broader segment of developers and businesses.


The use of Cairo also underscores StarkNet's commitment to improving the user experience. By leveraging the scalability of Zero-Knowledge proofs (ZKPs), developers can harness the computational power of these proofs without mastering the intricacies of writing complex circuits. This feature increases the efficiency of program execution, thus driving improved performance and productivity.

Moreover, StarkNet's strategic approach to harnessing the potential of Cairo and Kakarot holds significant implications for the digital currency landscape. By offering a highly efficient and scalable platform, StarkNet is well-positioned to drive a shift in industry practices, paving the way for more efficient and cost-effective smart contract development.

As digital currency markets continue to evolve, StarkNet's innovative integration of Kakarot and CairoVM offers an exciting vision of the future. By fostering a robust ecosystem that values scalability, performance, and user experience, StarkNet has established a new benchmark in cryptocurrency technology. This innovative approach promises to redefine the digital currency landscape, marking a significant step forward for cryptocurrency investors and users alike.

Ultimately, the implementation of Kakarot and CairoVM in the StarkNet ecosystem sets the stage for a more inclusive, efficient, and robust cryptocurrency market. This market not only caters to the needs of current cryptocurrency investors and users but also presents promising implications for the future of the cryptocurrency landscape. The impact of these technologies is likely to resonate across the cryptocurrency community, providing a template for future advancements in the field.

How do you rate this article?


Michael @ CryptoEQ
Michael @ CryptoEQ

I am a Co-Founder and Lead Analyst at CryptoEQ. Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.


Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.