The Ethereum Foundation encourages users to run a node and, in turn, “become Ethereum.” In the next month, it could become much easier to do that.
Rocket Pool, a liquid staking protocol that’s one of the 20 largest projects in decentralized finance, will release its long-awaited “Atlas” upgrade no later than early April, founder and Chief Technology Officer David Rugendyke said in a recent blog post.
Atlas will allow Rocket Pool node operators to run their own Ethereum validators — “minipools” in protocol parlance — with only 8 Ether, or about $12,500 at Monday’s prices. That will halve the current requirement of 16 ETH, which is itself half the amount required for people who run their own validators without Rocket Pool software.
Node operators and validators are the distributed group of users who run a combination of hardware and software that confirms and orders transactions on Ethereum. The number and geographic distribution of node operators and validators is considered a rough proxy for the decentralization and censorship resistance of the Ethereum network.
Node operation requires only consumer-grade hardware and an internet connection; validator operation, on the other hand, is capital-intensive and requires the deposit, or “staking,” of ETH in increments of 32.
Long-term, Rocket Pool aims to halve its minipool requirement again, to 4 ETH. But that will require a change to Ethereum itself, CEO Darren Langers previously told The Defiant.
“We’re kind of lowering that barrier of entry so that we can open up to more potential node operators,” Langers said last year in an interview at Ethereum’s marquee Devcon conference. Doing so would boost a protocol that had seen its number of node operators double in less than a year, he added.
“And that’s with 16 ETH. Can you imagine eight, or four?”
Lowering the barrier of entry for running a minipool will “instantly” boost the protocol’s capacity threefold, according to Rugendyke, as well as the yield minipool operators can earn.
All Eyes On Shanghai
Auditors have finished reviewing Atlas’ code, according to Rugendyke. The upgrade is now slated to go live at the end of March or early April, just before an Ethereum upgrade that will allow for the withdrawal of staked ETH.
Rocket Pool and other liquid staking protocols, like Lido, have seen a surge in interest this year, as anticipation mounts for the Ethereum upgrade, codenamed “Shanghai.”
Rocket Pool’s RPL governance token has almost doubled in value since Jan. 1, according to CoinMarketCap, and deposits have increased from $564M to $993M, according to Defi Llama.
But in the days since Rocket Pool announced its “countdown to Atlas,” RPL has fallen roughly 8% amid a broader market correction; in that same span, market leader Lido’s LDO token fell more than 14%.