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State of the Testnet — December 2021

State of the Testnet — December 2021

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Some of the Axelar team out for a night together in Toronto

Last week, a dozen members of the Axelar team traveled from across the globe to meet in Toronto, Canada for 10 days of intense development.

The objectives of the gathering were simple: deploy a code-complete testnet and scale the number of supported integrations on the testnet. For most, it was the first time meeting in person due to the remote nature of our work and the travel restrictions COVID has created over the last two years. Nevertheless, the team fell right to work, finalizing a number of enhancements to the testnet, conducting tests, hosting an in-person meetup for the local blockchain community, and hitting some new testnet milestones we felt are worth sharing.

Over 70 validators on the testnet with 50 active at the time of this screenshot

Today, there are:

  • 800+ testnet participants, with more being added each week
  • 1190+ testnet exercises submitted
  • 79 registered validators, with multiple validators running multiple chains
  • 6 networks actively being tested (Terra, Ethereum, Polygon, Avalanche, Moonbeam, Fantom)
  • 2 security audits running (NCC Group and Oak Security) with 1 (CURE53) about to begin

Network Updates:

Based on feedback from the last testnet iteration, a number of network parameters have been fine-tuned. For instance, we increased the signblock interval duration that will allow validators to perform maintenance and onboard more chains without penalties on the network. The signblock interval duration is now being increased to two days. Additional improvements include the addition of recovery and upgrade mechanisms on the network and smart contracts, spinning up of microservices performing various functions on the network (i.e. relaying across chains), and other optimizations.

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Check out the number of chains each validator is supporting

Key Question: Can we integrate a new chain in a matter of minutes?

Answer: Yes, we can!

From the beginning, one of the core system principles that we set out to achieve was to allow seamless integration of new chains, regardless of their consensus protocols.

In the space of one hour, on the first day of our team onsite, a single member of our development team added and activated all six blockchain networks to our testnet instance!

Our goal is to make this a permissionless process, in which any blockchain that wants to connect to the network may do so through the following steps:

  1. Enough validators must register RPC endpoints to vote on events from the new chain. This is pretty straightforward and the process doesn’t assume availability of light clients or any specific logic around the consensus.

2. A small set of chain registration commands must be executed on the network.

By following these steps, the new blockchain is connected to the Axelar Network and thus all other previously connected blockchains. This design has allowed us to make integrations to both Layer 1s like Avalanche and Fantom, Layer 2s like Polygon, as well as Polkadot Parachains.

It is important to note that these additions can be added on a live network without the need to reset it.

Axelar network is an end-to-end platform for interoperability development. Various components (multi-party protocols, finality gadgets, incentives) can be leveraged by anyone to register new chains and scale interoperability across the ecosystem. In the coming weeks the team will evaluate testnet validators on their responsiveness, the number of chains they support, and open up more exercises on the network.

Stay tuned for future updates!