NEAR Q2 Protocol Roadmap Update

August 9, 2023

The Q1 protocol roadmap update was well received by the community. Pagoda committed to  continuing to share quarterly roadmap updates, so here is the update for Q2 2023.

What the protocol team accomplished in Q2

Pagoda made good progress on the protocol roadmap in Q2. For the experience section, there is now a NEP on account namespaces, a key stepping stone towards account extension. Account extension would allow users to easily compose different modules such as multisig, proxy, and so on. In addition, Aurora submitted a NEP on wasm submodules, which, if implemented, would enable a limited form of synchronous execution, or allowing transactions that touch multiple contracts to settle within a single block. Both proposals are still works in progress due to the complexity of the changes. 

On top of these two proposed changes, there is a NEP on shared storage for contract code which could significantly lower the cost of deploying a common contract. These proposals aspire to bring to life the account extension idea, which allows an account to install different modules to different functionalities such as multisig, recovery, proxy, and so on.

For the core section of the roadmap, Pagoda delivered a few important improvements this quarter. Flat storage with value inlining is live on mainnet and brings an 8x improvement to state reads. Work on background writes is also in progress and the protocol team’s initial experiments show that it can potentially reduce the cost of state writes by 3x. In addition, cold storage is fully live on mainnet and drastically reduces the cost of running an archival node.

Pagoda has also made good progress to revamp state sync. With the growth of mainnet state, the previous version of state sync was too inefficient and practically unusable. The new state sync, which uses flat storage to speed up state part generation, allows a node to finish syncing mainnet state within 3 hours. The team is expected to deliver the fully functional version of the new state sync in Q3.

The team has also delivered finite wasm and its integration with nearcore, which improves the security and robustness of NEAR’s contract runtime immensely.

Updates to the roadmap

The experience section of the roadmap remains mostly the same, with two changes worth highlighting. One shift is that the changes required to implement account extension are temporarily on hold as we would like to see the impact on user experience by first emulating the changes through smart contracts. Another change is that the protocol team will work on the storage refund problem to prevent potential faucet-draining attacks in the new onboarding experience.

For the core section of the roadmap, the focus in Q3 will shift to Phase 2 of sharding, which includes both resharding the current mainnet state and turning off the requirement that block producers have to track all shards. This endeavor will take more than one quarter to finish and we will post more updates as we iron out details of the design.

To stay up to date with protocol changes as they happen, or to participate in protocol governance, please join the protocol community group and follow the NEAR Enhancement Proposal (NEP) process.

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