Understanding Reth (Rust Ethereum)

Understanding Reth (Rust Ethereum)

Blast Team

4 min read

Let’s take a detailed look at Reth, the new execution layer client developed by Paradigm and what we can expect from this implementation!

What are Execution Layers and Consensus Layers?

Ethereum’s remarkable success in recent years has significantly boosted its popularity among blockchain enthusiasts. Consequently, Ethereum has faced various scalability issues, including high gas fees, slow block times, and network congestion. To address these challenges, Ethereum has been divided into two highly optimized layers: the execution layer (EL) and the consensus layer (CL), enhancing the network’s scalability. Each layer requires distinct node client infrastructure.

Execution layer clients operate on the execution layer to maintain and manage the blockchain’s overall state and execute transactions using virtual machines. On the other hand, the consensus layer functions as the new backend infrastructure for the Ethereum blockchain, responsible for hosting and verifying the performance of validators. In the PoS (Proof of Stake) model, validation is done through staking, where validators stake ETH as collateral. This staked ETH can be confiscated (slashed) by the network in the event of misbehavior.

The main Execution Layer Clients are:

  • Geth (Go Ethereum)
  • Nethermind
  • Erigon
  • Hyperledger Besu

Whereas the main Consensus Layer Clients in the Web3 development space are:

  • Prsym
  • Teku
  • Lighthouse
  • Nimbus
  • Lodestar

In the current blockchain development space, popular blockchain execution layer clients include Geth (80.1% adoption), Erigon (8.7% adoption), Besu (3.0% adoption), and Nethermind (2.6% adoption). In contrast, for consensus layers, Prysm (41.2% adoption), Lighthouse (35.3% adoption) and Nimbus (13.8% adoption) are the leading node clients.

Introducing Reth

Reth, short for Rust Ethereum and pronounced accordingly, represents a new implementation of an Ethereum full-node, emphasizing user-friendliness, modularity, speed, and efficiency. This execution client is compatible with all Ethereum consensus client implementations that support the Engine API, enabling it to sync the entire Ethereum blockchain from its genesis and facilitate interaction with it (including its historical state in archive mode) upon synchronization. It is being developed by the team at Paradigm

The development of Reth targets a wide array of users, including stakers, hobbyists, RPC node operators, bridges, MEV searchers, and even Layer 2 solutions (e.g., Optimism/Arbitrum) or projects adjacent to Ethereum (e.g., Polygon, BSC, Avalanche, Fantom, etc.). These diverse user groups have varying needs—for instance, hobbyists and stakers may require nodes that operate on less expensive hardware, whereas RPC node operators might utilize costly disks and cloud snapshots. Rather than than tackling all these needs simultaneously, Reth proposes a configurable node that allows users to navigate the trade-off space according to their specific requirements.

What is Paradigm?

Paradigm is a research-driven technology investment firm focusing on crypto and related frontier technologies. Investments are made in companies and protocols, ranging from as little as $1 million to over $100 million. Involvement often begins at the earliest stages, with ongoing support provided to portfolio companies over time. A deeply hands-on approach is taken to help projects reach their full potential, addressing both technical aspects (such as mechanism design, security, and engineering) and operational aspects (including recruiting, go-to-market strategies, and legal and regulatory strategies).

Why Reth?

Reth is being developed with specific objectives to enhance the Ethereum ecosystem through improved performance, client diversity, and contribution to the Ethereum roadmap.

Building a Performant Node for Power Users

Reth is designed to cater to power users of the Ethereum stack by providing a node built for performance and expert-level tinkering. The goal is to offer best-in-class performance across various aspects, including CPU, memory, bandwidth, and disk space, or to provide configurable profiles allowing users to balance trade-offs between these modes, such as disk space versus latency and throughput.

Each component of Reth is intended to be usable as a library within other tech stacks. For instance, an indexing company might use the database bindings for improved table re-indexing performance, or an ERC4337-bundler could utilize the EVM and database bindings to offer simulation services to wallet users. This modular approach allows components of the node stack to be unbundled and re-bundled, enabling power users to optimize the features they need. The design and code of Reth, including FFI bindings, are expected to integrate with other implementations, contributing to the broader ecosystem.

Contributing to Ethereum’s Stability through Improved Client Diversity

Client diversity is critical for the Ethereum protocol, preventing any single client from exceeding 66% dominance. This diversity supports cross-client testing for correctness and promotes decentralized development, reducing the risk of finalizing blocks with software bugs. Reth aims to increase the number of clients in the ecosystem, thereby enhancing the network’s health and stability while maintaining balanced adoption.

Giving Back to Ethereum by Contributing to the Roadmap

The Ethereum protocol and node codebases have undergone significant evolution and continue to develop with ongoing changes such as EIP-1559, The Merge, and EIP-4844. These changes require iterative innovation at the node level, with rigorous testing, benchmarking, and documentation. The community expects Core Developers to maintain network health and implement innovations from research directions within tight timelines, often with uncertain scope or edge cases.

Reth aims to support these efforts by alleviating some pressure on Core Developers, participating actively in development, and contributing to essential milestones on the Ethereum roadmap. Through ongoing research, new code, and architectural advancements, Reth seeks to foster continued innovation and robustness within the Ethereum protocol.

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