Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time


CI License:Apache License: MIT

(a.k.a. zkp-toolkit-ckb)

Zero-knowledge proofs toolkit for CKB, empowering the community with the cutting-edge techniques of zero-knowledge proofs to develop all kinds of decentralized applications.

The project is going to bridge the gap of cryptographic engineering between thriving academic research and aspiring dAPPs developers, by providing multiple zkp schemes and curve options, a more user-friendly interface, many useful gadget libraries, and many more tutorials and examples.

Besides, it provides smart contracts that run as zero-knowledge proof verifiers on the Nervos CKB chain. CKB developers and users can implement various complex zero-knowledge verification processes through the simplest contract invocation. Cooperate with the core zkp-toolkit to complete off-chain prove and on-chain verify.

This project is also known as zkp-toolkit-ckb and is supported by the Nervos Foundation. Check out the original proposal and grant announcement.

The following document is more focused on CKB smart contracts. Check this doc for more details on zkp-toolkit usage and features.

What's new?

Milestone #2 (2020/12/20)

  • More schemes: Marlin, Spartan, CLINKv2, Libra, Hyrax, and aSVC
  • Efficient ECC for zkSNARKs: Jubjub and BabyJubJub
  • More useful gadgets: sha256, blake2s, Poseidon, rescue, and Merkle tree
  • More examples
  • Many new zkp verifiers on CKB-VM
  • Benchmarks on curves, schemes, and CKB-VM

Milestone #1 (2020/07/10)

An early runnable version of the toolkit with basic features.

  • Schemes: Groth16 and Bulletproofs with R1CS
  • Curves: BN256 and BLS12-381
  • Gadgets: basic gadgets
  • Smart contracts: Groth16 verifier on CKB-VM

Table of contents

How does this contract help to verify a zero-knowledge proof?

A contract for verification is deployed on the ckb chain. The prover and the verifier know where the contract is deployed.

  1. The prover completes the trusted-setup, and generates a proof (in the form of a file);
  2. The prover sends a transaction that creates some new cells(aka. utxo, but carrying some data), with one containing the proof and vk files and using the previous contract as its type script (which means, this cell should pass the verification of the contract logic);
  3. The miner collects the transaction and executes the assigned contract. All the cells in a transaction assigning one contract as type script are verified by the contract logic. Otherwise, the transaction is rejected by the miner.
  4. The prover goes public with the transaction, the proof, the vk file, and the verification contract address that is needed to do the verification.
  5. The verifier is able to verify the proof using the information provided by the prover.


  1. Ensure the version of rustc is not lower than 1.42 and use stable version of toolchain.

  2. Install the CKB contract development framework capsule. Access the wiki page for more details about capsule.

    cargo install ckb-capsule
  3. Deploy a ckb dev chain if you need to deploy the contract to the blockchain. See for guidance.

Build contracts

You can choose to build the contract in dev mode or release mode like Cargo. The product under release mode is suitable for deployment with a reasonable size and execution consumption, and, debug! macro is disabled. Dev mode product allows you to use debug! macro to print logs in ckb log, but on the cost of larger binary size and execution cycles. The product resides in ./ckb-contracts/build/[release|debug]/universal_groth16_verifier.


  • all the capsule commands should be executed at the project root.
  • Users in mainland China can add the tuna's mirror of in the file ./cargo/config for a faster download of dependencies.
# At ckb-contracts directory.
# Dev mode, enable debug! macro but result in bloated size.
cd ckb-contracts
capsule build
# Release mode. Slim, no outputs in the logs.
capsule build --release

Enable debug! macro in release mode

In ckb-std version 0.7.2 and newer, debug! macro is disabled in release mode. If you still want to enable debug! macro in release mode, insert debug-assertions = true under [profile.release] in ckb-contracts/Cargo.toml.


A simplified, one-time blockchain context is used in the test environment using ckb-tool crate. Needless to setup an authentic blockchain and run a ckb node, one can simply send a transaction to invoke the contract and checkout if the contract works as expected.

Run cli tests

  1. Go to ./cli and generate a vk file and a proof file using ckb-zkp's command line utility.

    Use groth16 scheme & bls12_381 curve:

    1. Complete trusted-setup:

      # ./cli
      cargo run --bin setup groth16 bls12_381 hash
    2. Prove the secret string.

      # ./cli
      cargo run --bin zkp-prove groth16 bls12_381 hash iamsecret

      When successful, it will create a proof file at proof_files.

    3. (Optional) Do the verification.

      # ./cli
      cargo run --bin zkp-verify proof_files/groth16-bls12_381-hash.proof.json

    Check supported schemes and curves:

    # ./cli
    cargo run --bin setup
    cargo run --bin zkp-prove
    cargo run --bin zkp-verify

    See cli document for further help.

Run CKB contacts tests


  • If you build the contract with --release flag, you should run tests with CAPSULE_TEST_ENV=release.
  • The flag --test-threads 1 after -- is used to ensure debug! outputs print in order.
  • In the file ./tests/src/, you can uncomment the #[ignore] attribute (By remove the leading double slants //) before a test function to omit during the testing. Or specify the test function name to filter others out.
  • Or you can specify a test function name, and perform only one test.
# At ckb-contracts/bench-tests directory root
# Dev mode contracts.
cargo test -- --nocapture --test-threads 1
# Release mode contracts.
CAPSULE_TEST_ENV=release cargo test -- --nocapture
# Specify a test name `test_groth16` that you want to execute
CAPSULE_TEST_ENV=release cargo test test_groth16 -- --nocapture


Capsule brings out-of-box contract deploying and migrating. It works for development and test on dev chain. To deploy a contract you have just cooked, you need:

  • A running ckb client on the local machine or the net.
  • A ckb-cli executable. capsule uses ckb-cli to interact with ckb client.
  • An account with sufficient CKBs for deployment (1 Byte of contract binary will consume 1 CKB. The transaction body will also take some extra CKBs, but not much). This account should be imported into ckb-cli.
  • A deployment manifest ./ckb-contracts/deployment.toml, which assigns the contract binary and cell lock-arg.

When everything needed is met, you should theoretically be able to deploy the contract. Use the command below to launch the transaction, and note that commonly the <ADDRESS> is a 46-bit alphanumeric string (Starting with ckt1 if you use a test net or dev chain).

# At ckb-contracts directory root
capsule deploy --address <ADDRESS>

Invoking the contract on-chain

No ready-to-use gear for invoking a contract on a real chain. Use ckb-cli, or an SDK to build a transaction to invoke the contract on-chain.

Debugging the capsule itself (Temporary usage)

You can use the master branch of capsule and the following commands to track the panics.

# At ckb-contracts directory root
RUST_LOG=capsule=trace capsule deploy --address <ADDRESS>

Optimizations & Benchmarks

In Nervos ckb, one should pay for data storage, transaction fees and computer resources. Paying for data storage means, one needs to pay a number of ckb tokens in direct proportion to the size of the transaction he raises. Paying for computer resources means one should pay extra ckbs based on the amount of computer resources that are used to verify a transaction. The computer resources are measured as cycles.

On the other hand, On mainnet Lina, the value of MAX_BLOCK_BYTES is 597_000 and MAX_BLOCK_CYCLES is 3_500_000_000.

For these reasons, we take contract binary size and execution cost both into consideration.

Binary size optimization

The deployer should pay for storing his contract on-chain. The larger the binary is, the more ckb tokens will be spent for deployment. So several compiling options are analyzed to reduce the contract binary size.

  • To build in release mode, this is enabled by default.
  • LTO
  • Strip
  • opt-level
  • codegen-units

To use LTO, opt-level and codegen-units, modify Cargo.toml:

# File: ckb-contracts/Cargo.toml
overflow-checks = true
# lto: true, "thin", false(default)
lto = true
# opt-level: 0, 1, 2, 3(default), "s", "z"
opt-level = "z"
# codegen-units: greater than 0, default 16
codegen-units = 1

To strip the binary, use rustflags = "-C link-arg=-s" in cargo config, which is a default option in Capsule with release compiling mode.

We will not try to explain what each option means (Explained in The Cargo Book), but list the size and running cost of the contract binaries under different combinations of these building options.

Test setup:

  • Release mode;
  • stripped;
  • using secbit/ckb-zkp-capsule:2021-02-17 to build and test and measure running costs;
  • using scheme groth16 and curve bn_256;
  • ckb-std version 0.7.2;
  • ckb-tool and ckb-testtool version 0.2.2;
  • Default profile setting: overflow-checks = true and panic = 'abort'.
LTO opt-level codegen-units Binary size(Byte) Execution cost (cycles)
not set not set not set 192,152 90,944,391
true not set not set 172,976 93,392,615
true "s" not set 107,440 151,462,521
true "z" not set 70,576 191,976,741
true "z" 1 58,288 195,535,979

Here comes a rough result:

  • Generally, size decreasing results to execution cost increasing.
  • Enabling LTO, use opt-level = "z", codegen-units = 1 and panic = "abort" for minimum binary size, at the cost of a higher cycle consumption.

Curve benchmark

Currently, we use different curves in proving and verifying, so we performed a simple benchmark on execution costs separately.

Test setup:

  • Release mode;
  • stripped;
  • Profile: LTO = true, codegen-units = 1, panic = "abort", overflow-checks = true, opt-level = "z";
  • using secbit/ckb-zkp-capsule:2021-02-17 to build and test and measure running costs;
  • using scheme bulletproofs (it can use all curves);
  • ckb-std version 0.7.2;
  • ckb-tool and ckb-testtool version 0.2.2.
Curve Binary size(Byte) Execution cost (cycles)
bn_256 91,056 796,836,045
bls12_381 91,056 1,908,755,330
JubJub 74,672 695,621,515
Baby_JubJub 74,762 691,819,058

Disabling ckb-zkp's crate features of curves for the verifier contract

Currently, we use different schemes in proving and verifying, so we performed a simple benchmark on execution costs separately.

Test setup:

  • Release mode;
  • stripped;
  • Profile: LTO = true, codegen-units = 1, panic = "abort", overflow-checks = true, opt-level = "z";
  • using secbit/ckb-zkp-capsule:2021-02-17 to build and test and measure running costs;
  • using curve bn_256 (it can use all schemes);
  • ckb-std 0.7.2;
  • ckb-tool and ckb-testtool version 0.2.2.
Scheme Binary size(Byte) Execution cost (cycles)
Groth16 58,288 195,535,979
Bulletproofs 91,056 796,836,045
Marlin 132,016 500,725,146
Spartan (nizk) 91,056 1,085,652,230
Spartan (snark) 119,728 1,911,833,747
CLINKv2 (ipa) 82,864 508,330,342
CLINKv2 (kzg10) 82,864 213,212,113

Further optimizations

We have accomplished the main goal we set for the Milestone-I of the zkp-toolkit-ckb, which was a simple on-chain verifier for CKB. The proof-of-concept smart contract code shows that we can make a usable zkp verifier for CKB with pure Rust without modifying the underlying chain. This also gives us a baseline on the performance of zkp verifiers for CKB-VM.

We'll implement more zkp verifiers in the following milestones, looking at reducing the binary size and execution cost, as well as the best practice to integrate with other contracts.


capsule complained error: Can't found capsule.toml, current directory is not a project

All the commands executed by capsule should be executed under the project root.

I can't see any output of my contract in the CKB's log on dev chain.

Modify ckb's configuration as below:

# File: ckb.toml of your chain.
filter = "info,ckb-script=debug"

The test can't find contract binary.

Make sure you build and test the contract in the same mode (dev or release, specified by flag --release).

# At ckb-contracts directory root
capsule build && cargo test -p tests --tests -- --nocapture --test-threads 1
# Or
capsule build --release && CAPSULE_TEST_ENV=release cargo test -p tests --tests -- --nocapture

As capsule executes building and testing in docker, the absolute path may not work as expected, so use relative path. And currently, the Capsule (nervosnetwork/capsule) mount the whole project folder into docker, so any relative location inside the project folder is allowed.

How is the project mounted into the Docker container?

In the nervosnetwork/capsule, capsule mounts the project folder into the container with path /code. But in the main source nervosnetwork/capsule, capsule may only mount the contract folder into the container. As docker is used, the absolute path is not recommended.

What does "cycles" mean in Nervos ckb?

The concept and intruduction of cycles can be found here.


  • Many, many thanks to jjy, a developer of nervosnetwork, for his selfless help and advice on this project.


This project is still under active development and is currently being used for research and experimental purposes only, please DO NOT USE IT IN PRODUCTION for now.


This project is licensed under either of

at your option.


Zero Knowledge Proofs Toolkit for CKB




Apache-2.0, MIT licenses found

Licenses found






No packages published