What Is NEAR Protocol?

What Is NEAR Protocol?

A Step-by-Step Guide to A Key Challenger Blockchain to Ethereum Many developers have earned valuable blockchain experience by working on Ethereum. Some moved on to Cardano and others to NEAR Protocol. What does it look like to create a competitive dApp network from scratch without being first?

NEAR Protocol is a public Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain that aims to bring DeFi to the masses with low transfer fees and fast transactions. NEAR competes with Avalanche, Solana, Cardano, Algorand, the new version of Ethereum, and other PoS networks. NEAR Protocol’s Origin and Purpose

NEAR’s founders are Alexander Skidanov and Illia Polosukhin, who hail from Ukraine and were educated in computer science and mathematics. They have been working on NEAR Protocol since 2017 after contributing to Ethereum’s open-source code. NEAR mainnet came online in August 2020.

Polosukhin also worked on Tensor Flow, an open source machine learning library. They based the company in San Francisco, which is typical for most developers pushing the software envelope. Skidanov and Polosukhin aimed to create a better Ethereum, without relying on Layer 2 scalability.

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In contrast, NEAR Protocol relies on making the mainchain (Layer 1) scalable. As such, it offers enterprise-grade performance from the get-go, offering up to 100,000 transactions per second once it’s fully upgraded. As a result, it has gained popularity across all continents to mainstream dApp/Web3 deployment, attracting 1,700 monthly active developers.

Venture capitalists backed NEAR to the tune of $566M so far, led by Andreessen Horowitz, DCG, Coinbase Ventures, Tiger Global, Accomplice, Pantera Capital, Electric Capital, Blockchange, Dragonfly Capital, Blockchain.com, and others. NEAR Protocol’s Impressive Performance

NEAR Protocol network has 18M wallets and daily transactions, 400,000 transfers at 2.4s finality, and a remarkable $0.01 fee. Although NEAR’s daily transaction count is three times lower than Ethereum’s, it completes transactions five times faster. Most importantly, the protocol’s fees are comparable to Ethereum’s Layer 2 Arbitrum or Polygon networks.

On paper, this makes NEAR more streamlined, less complicated, and ready for mass DeFi adoption. The question is, how is this scaling possible without taking advantage of Layer 2 networks to spread the traffic load, the key driver for Ethereum’s high gas fees?

It turns out, the same technology Ethereum will implement in its Surge upgrade following The Merge — sharding . But, before delving deeper into sharding, it is important to understand the problem all blockchain networks face. Decentralization Compromise

The key distinction between Web2 and web3 is centralization. Case in point, a Web2 company like Google can offer lightning-fast services because it has full control over its server farms.

Each server node is geared for performance, and controlled by Google. In turn, Google can grant or revoke access to its cloud services at will. With public and permissionless blockchain networks, it is possible to offer Google-like services but without the centralization baggage.

That’s possible because everyone can turn their computer into a network node, which then syncs up with other nodes to validate transactions and store the blockchain’s entire transaction history — a public ledger. Because validators need to confirm transactions across other nodes, this makes blockchains less efficient unless they are equally centralized as Google’s server farms.

In short, all blockchain networks have to find ways to optimize network traffic, so their performance is close to or equal to a centralized computer network. NEAR Protocol accomplishes this optimization through sharding. Sharding: NEAR Protocol’s Big Advantage

Splitting validators. Source: NEAR Protocol At the core of NEAR’s coding design is sharding. Even before blockchains were popularized, sharding has been in use to optimize computer network activity. Sharding works by breaking the blockchain into sections (shards), where each shard handles only a fraction of the network’s total load.

NEAR further tweaked the concept of sharding with its unique Nightshade solution, launched in November 2021 as Simple Nightshade . Because validators no longer have to process all incoming transactions, but only those within shards, Nightshade facilitates infinite scaling. This is how it is possible to simultaneously have negligible fees and fast transaction speeds. Moreover, NEAR’s Nightshade is revolutionary for the following reasons: The blockchain is sharded as a single-state blockchain.

Every NEAR block accepts all transactions from other shards. When one block changes its state, other shards change their states as well. In practice, when it comes to physical information transmission, NEAR validators don’t have to download data whenever the block’s full state changes. Rather, they maintain shard states, as split […]

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