NEAR Fast Finality Layer: Live on testnet

Nethermind
Nethermind.eth
Published in
4 min readMay 8, 2024

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Rollups on the Ethereum network are experiencing significant user adoption, marking a new phase in the evolution of decentralised applications (dApps) and smart contracts. Yet, as the ecosystem steadily progresses with its rollup-centric roadmap, it faces new challenges — fragmentation of liquidity and state and high finality time. These hurdles impede user experience and innovation. Enter NEAR Fast Finality Layer (NFFL), an initiative led by NEAR in collaboration with Nethermind and EigenLabs. NFFL is designed to address the issues of fragmentation and finality, laying the groundwork for enhanced growth and accessibility in the Ethereum ecosystem.

What is the NEAR Fast Finality Layer?

NFFL is a cutting-edge infrastructure layer designed to bring about fast transaction finality across Ethereum’s Layer 2 rollups and beyond. It accomplishes this by leveraging the security mechanisms of both the Ethereum network, through EigenLayer’s restaking features, and NEAR’s validator guarantees. This unique combination enables transactions to achieve finality in just a few seconds — a stark contrast to the hours or days required by current optimistic and ZK rollups. NFFL aims to tackle ongoing problems with speed, cost, and cross-chain communication.

The Mechanism Behind NFFL

The operational framework of NFFL is designed to ensure both speed and security.

  1. Transaction Submission: Rollups, such as Polygon or Arbitrum, submit transactions to NEAR DA.
  2. Verification Process: NFFL nodes then get the transaction data directly from NEAR DA and execute the transaction according to the rules of the rollup virtual machine.
  3. Restakers Consensus: Once individual NFFL nodes have verified the transactions, they are signed and aggregated across the NFFL nodes, attesting to a valid state transition on the rollup.
  4. Cross rollup settlement: The aggregated signature from the NFFL nodes is published on the target rollup, allowing it to access the latest state of the source rollup.
  5. Final Settlement: Transactions are eventually finalized on the Ethereum blockchain, maintaining the integrity and security of the network.

This process speeds up transaction times and establishes the necessary level of security and trust minimization required for seamless cross-rollup interactions.

NFFL: A Keystone for Chain Abstraction

One of NFFL’s most significant implications is its contribution to the broader vision of chain abstraction. This concept aims to simplify user and developer interactions with blockchain networks, making the underlying technologies virtually invisible to end-users. By providing a layer that offers fast, secure, and interoperable transactions, NFFL is a critical step toward realizing a world where applications and assets can move freely across the blockchain ecosystem, unencumbered by the current technical barriers.

The implications of NFFL extend far beyond just improved transaction times and reduced costs. It enables a future where:

  • Developers can create dApps that leverage the strengths of multiple Layer 2 solutions without compromising on speed or security.
  • Users can enjoy seamless experiences across different platforms, from trading assets to borrowing and lending, without worrying about the complexities of cross-chain transactions.
  • The blockchain ecosystem becomes more unified and accessible, encouraging innovation and adoption across various sectors.

We’re proud to incubate the Fast Finality project alongside the expert teams at EigenLabs and Nethermind to deliver fast cross-rollup communication for app developers and defragment liquidity. This initiative will advance NEAR’s longtime vision of chain abstraction for all of Web3 while also further scaling the Ethereum ecosystem.

Illia Polosukhin, Co-Founder of NEAR Protocol & CEO of NEAR Foundation

A Unified Vision

At the heart of the NEAR Fast Finality initiative is a powerful collaboration between NEAR, Nethermind, and EigenLabs. This partnership combines diverse expertise and shared visions to achieve a common goal: the realization of a more scalable, efficient, and user-centric Ethereum network. NEAR’s innovative approach to blockchain technology, Nethermind’s proficiency in Ethereum infrastructure and security, and EigenLabs’ ground-breaking work on the EigenLayer protocol collectively contribute to the NFFL project. This embodies a mutual dedication to expanding the limits of blockchain technology.

As a key contributor in Ethereum’s Layer 2 development, our work with NEAR and EigenLayer on the NFFL fits right into our goals. This collaboration is a big step towards making blockchain networks work better together, showing our dedication to bringing new ideas to life and connecting different parts of the blockchain world.

Swapnil Raj, Head of Innovation, Nethermind

NFFL Now Live on the Holesky Testnet

We’re excited to announce that the NEAR Fast Finality Layer (NFFL) is now live for testing on the Holesky testnet. This deployment allows developers to explore the NFFL’s capabilities and provide valuable feedback to enhance its functionality.

Future Work

NEAR Fast Finality Layer (NFFL) network represents a step forward in our mission to enhance the Ethereum ecosystem’s scalability and interoperability. Facilitating faster, more secure transactions sets the stage for a new wave of blockchain innovation. In future releases, we will add the ability for rollups to use the DA layer of their choice, like EigenDA.

To dive deeper into NFFL’s workings, explore the technical specifications and access the codebase.

About Nethermind

We are a leading research and software engineering company developing tooling and infrastructure for blockchain ecosystems, specializing in Ethereum and Layer 2. With a focus on enhancing security, scalability, and stability, Nethermind drives innovation and adoption within the blockchain industry. Visit our operator page to delegate with Nethermind.

www.nethermind.io

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