EigenLayer Explained

EigenLayer Explained

Learn how EigenLayer extends Ethereum's capabilities through restaking and consensus-building intersubjective forking.

Summary: EigenLayer introduces transformative enhancements to the Ethereum ecosystem with its "restaking" concept and the deployment of the EIGEN token. This protocol allows Ethereum stakers to reallocate their assets to bolster security across multiple applications, significantly enriching the blockchain's infrastructure.

By also pioneering intersubjective forking, EigenLayer addresses complex consensus challenges, offering more robust cryptoeconomic security and fostering a more versatile and interconnected environment for decentralized applications.

EigenLayer Overview
4.5 out of 5.0 by Datawallet
EigenLayer is a protocol on Ethereum that enhances network security and rewards through a unique "restaking" mechanism of ETH and Liquid Staking Tokens.
Supported LSTs
rETH, stETH, cbETH and ETH.
Total Value Locked (TVL)
Over 963,000 ETH in verified TVL on the protocol.
Audited by Consensys and Sigma Prime

EigenLayer is a new DeFi primitive and users should conduct careful diligence before deploying capital.

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What is EigenLayer?

EigenLayer is an innovative protocol on Ethereum, introducing "restaking," a mechanism allowing ETH and Liquid Staking Tokens (LSTs) reuse in the consensus layer. This feature enables Ethereum stakers to reallocate their staked assets, bolstering security for various applications and earning additional rewards. With a Total Value Locked (TVL) of $15 billion, EigenLayer marks a significant advancement in refining Ethereum's staking infrastructure and boosting cryptoeconomic security.

Central to EigenLayer's utility is its capacity to diversify Ethereum's security. Stakers can restake their ETH, contributing to the security of multiple services. This not only lowers the capital burden for participants but also strengthens trust assurances for each service, playing a crucial role in Ethereum's ecosystem.

EigenLayer emerges as a solution for decentralized services on Ethereum, facilitating access to Ethereum's collective security resources. It eliminates the need for these services to build independent trust networks, fostering an environment conducive to decentralized innovation and governance.

How Does EigenLayer Work?

EigenLayer operates by extending the functionality and security of Ethereum's staking system through a process called restaking. Here's a simplified breakdown of how it functions:

  1. Staking Assets: The first step involves stakers depositing Ethereum (ETH) or Liquid Staking Tokens (LSTs) like stETH, rETH, or cbETH. This is done on the Ethereum network, usually via the EigenLayer app.
  2. Opting into EigenLayer: After staking their assets, users can choose to participate in EigenLayer by opting into specific smart contracts designed by the protocol. This is where the restaking process begins.
  3. Securing Multiple Services: Through restaking, stakers contribute to the security of various decentralized applications (dApps) and services within the Ethereum ecosystem through Active Validator Services (AVS). This diversifies their investment and potentially increases their reward earnings.
  4. Flexibility in Participation: EigenLayer's design allows stakers to simultaneously be part of multiple security pools. This not only lowers the entry barrier in terms of capital but also enhances the overall trust and security across the network.
  5. Delegation and Operators: A key aspect of EigenLayer is the ability for stakers to delegate their restaked assets to operators. These operators specialize in managing the restaking process and can focus on specific staking strategies.
  6. Smart Contract Utilization: The protocol uses various smart contracts, such as EigenPod and StrategyManager, to manage functions like native restaking and delayed withdrawals, ensuring a smooth operation.
  7. Safety Measures: For security, EigenLayer imposes a hold period for withdrawals, typically around seven days, to add an extra layer of safety in the restaking process.

In summary, EigenLayer significantly bolsters Ethereum's staking infrastructure, providing a more versatile and secure method for asset allocation and enhancing network security. This approach benefits individual stakers and the Ethereum network as a whole.

What is EigenDA?

EigenDA, created by EigenLabs, is a decentralized data availability (DA) service integrated with the Ethereum blockchain through the EigenLayer protocol. As EigenLayer's first actively validated service (AVS), EigenDA's main objective is to ensure secure, efficient, and scalable data storage and accessibility. It facilitates this by enabling restakers to delegate their stakes to node operators for validation tasks, in exchange for service payments. This mechanism boosts transaction throughput and cost-efficiency, and ensures robust composability within the EigenLayer ecosystem, scaling with the network's participation.

In the Ethereum ecosystem, particularly for ZK and Optimistic rollups, data availability is critical. Without accessible transaction data, reconstructing rollup states for operations like asset transfers becomes impossible. For Optimistic rollups, this data is also essential for verifying state commitments and generating fraud proofs. 

EigenDA addresses these needs through a well-structured architecture, ensuring that transaction data remains accessible, secure, and reliable for effective blockchain operation.

EIGEN Airdrop

The EigenLayer airdrop, labeled as stakedrop, is primarily focused on distributing EIGEN tokens to the community. During the initial Season 1 phase, these tokens are non-transferable, promoting a period of growth and consensus while community members explore the unique staking and forking features inherent in EIGEN's design.

In Season 1, 5% of the initial supply of EIGEN tokens is allocated to users who actively participate in restaking. This allocation process begins with a snapshot on March 15, and the claims for these tokens will open on May 10, 2024, providing a 120-day window for restakers to claim their share. Subsequent seasons will continue to focus on community participation and contributions.

EIGEN Airdrop

What is Intersubjective Forking?

Intersubjective forking is a unique mechanism introduced with the EIGEN token to manage blockchain discrepancies that are acknowledged by community consensus but are not directly verifiable through code, such as selective data withholding. This method was designed to address the limitations of traditional blockchain systems, which typically can only resolve objectively verifiable faults.

The process works by enabling the creation of a fork in the EIGEN token, not the entire Ethereum blockchain, when a consensus on a fault is reached. If the community agrees that a fault occurred, the offending parties' stakes are slashed in the forked version of the token, rendering their original tokens less valuable or worthless.

This directly involves the EIGEN token as both the vehicle for consensus and the means of enforcing penalties, significantly enhancing the protocol's capacity to govern complex, subjective interactions within the blockchain.

Intersubjective Forking

EigenLayer Team

EigenLayer is developed by EigenLabs, a Seattle-based team with a solid background in math and cryptography. The team is led by Sreeram Kannan, a former professor and head of the Blockchain Lab at the University of Washington, indicating a strong academic foundation for the project. Key team members include engineers Robert Raynor, Soubhik Deb, Bowen Xue, and product expert Vyas Krishnan.

In terms of funding, EigenLabs has secured considerable investment, demonstrating investor confidence in EigenLayer's potential. The company raised $50 million in a Series A funding round, following an initial seed round of $14.5 million. This funding supports the development and phased rollout of the EigenLayer protocol, designed to enhance blockchain infrastructure.

Bottom Line

EigenLayer revolutionizes Ethereum's ecosystem by innovatively leveraging staking assets beyond the traditional scope. It introduces mechanisms like restaking and intersubjective forking, facilitated by the EIGEN token, which not only fortify network security but also expand the functional horizon of Ethereum. This integration of the EIGEN token into these processes enhances the protocol's ability to manage complex consensus scenarios.

By enabling stakers to support multiple applications and services, EigenLayer enhances efficiency and fosters a more interconnected blockchain environment. This protocol is poised to be a cornerstone in the evolution of decentralized networks, promoting a more secure, versatile, and collaborative future.

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