Aurora-The jewel of NEAR Protocol
Blockchain technology has been in the scenes for a little over a decade now. Different blockchain projects have emerged over time, with each having its unique solutions targeting either security, speed, transaction cost, interoperability, or scalability.
Aurora is a single layer-2 solution on a NEAR protocol that serves most of the functions listed above. Let’s take time to clear out some ambiguity here, shall we?
Unlike the well-known Smart Contracts compatible blockchains like Ethereum, Cardano, Polkadot, and recently, Solana, not much is being said about the NEAR protocol. This could result from the fact that NEAR is still at its development stage, pending when it becomes fully fledged out.
NEAR: what is it about?
NEAR protocol is a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) Smart contracts compatible blockchain governed by the holders of its native $NEAR token. NEAR protocol is often described as a Decentralized Finance ecosystem characterized by a highly efficient network performance made possible through sharding operations.
NEAR protocol’s block production process uses a Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) consensus captured by the Monika “Doomslug.” This gives users who do not possess the hardware to run a full validator node the opportunity to delegate their NEAR tokens in exchange for staking rewards.
As a blockchain in the highly competitive smart contracts environment, the NEAR protocol takes a top spot in terms of speed (processing up to 100,000 transactions per second), low transaction cost, high throughput, and interoperability through its rainbow bridge.
NEAR: Relationship with Aurora
The inability of different blockchains to communicate with each other and exchange value in a hassle-free manner has been one fundamental problem with the majority of blockchain networks. In most cases, bridges are utilized to enable the cross-chain transfer of crypto assets.
However, the issue of interoperability goes beyond merely transferring assets through bridges. The presence of blockchain protocols with pre-defined infrastructure that supports cross-chain communication is a rare characteristic of the NEAR ecosystem.
Aurora is a sub-network built with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatibility on the NEAR protocol’s base layer to host Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications. In other words, Aurora is a Layer-2 blockchain built on NEAR protocol with properties that make hosting Decentralized Applications (DApps) from the Ethereum blockchain very seamless.
Quite similar to Polygon and Avalanche of the Ethereum ecosystem, Aurora leverages the operational efficiency of NEAR protocol to offer high processing speed, scalability, and interoperability at a very minimal cost.
EVM: what it means and why it is important
Virtual machines exist as a virtual architecture on top of the usual operating systems. They imitate the function of physical computing machines by utilizing the computing power of physical machines. Following this structure, virtual machines have become the go-to choice in the development of decentralized applications.
You must have heard of Ethereum being described as the “internet computer” at some point. What sits at the core of such a description is the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
The Ethereum blockchain and the smart contracts built on it are powered by computer codes written in Solidity. To execute these codes, the virtual architecture provided by the EVM is used.
Since Ethereum is the first known blockchain with smart contract compatibility, it serves as a home for many Decentralized applications. That means, there is a lot of locked-up value available on the Ethereum network as a result of its vastness and prominence.
To capture some of the value on the Ethereum network and also drive adoption for their respective networks, new and emerging blockchains have made EVM compatibility a critical part of their virtual architecture. In other words, these new blockchains take on an EVM flavor, whilst maintaining their respective source codes.
As a result, interoperability and cross-chain transactions with the Ethereum ecosystem become a walk in the park when using these EVM-compatible blockchains. Projects built on Ethereum can be easily ferried across other EVM compatible chains to take advantage of network efficiencies like speed, low gas fees, faster finality, etc.
For instance, the EVM compatibility of the Aurora on NEAR protocol makes it easy to execute Ethereum-based smart contracts on the NEAR ecosystem. This flexibility and cross-chain mobility make it possible for Decentralized applications on the Ethereum network to leverage the speed and low gas fees on the NEAR protocol.
Aurora: The Hot EVM on NEAR
As earlier explained, Aurora through its EVM compatibility can execute smart contracts within and outside the NEAR protocol. It serves as an extension of the NEAR protocol that can effortlessly host Dapps from the Ethereum ecosystem.
Since the main programming language for the NEAR ecosystem is RUST, it would have been practically difficult to host Dapps programmed with Solidity -the programming language for the Ethereum network- on Aurora without doing a bottom-up overhaul of the source codes to suit the requirements of the NEAR ecosystem.
However, using the Aurora protocol, developers can easily migrate smart contracts written in Solidity to the NEAR ecosystem -and vice versa -without having to go through re-writing the contracts in a blockchain-specific programming language.
The EVM compatibility of Aurora has made it a hot slice of the NEAR ecosystem. It is a popularly held belief that the NEAR ecosystem will rise to prominence as the adoption rate for Aurora increases. This assertion might not be far from reality as evidence have it that Aurora already hosts more Decentralized applications than the NEAR protocol itself.
Some Key Features driving Adoption on Aurora
A summary of some features that are driving the adoption of the Aurora L2 solution on the NEAR protocol is highlighted below:
● Ethereum compatibility — Since the EVM property of Aurora makes it possible to migrate and host Smart contracts from Ethereum without a need to re-write the codes, Aurora can easily become a choice destination for Smart contract developers who are escaping from the outrageous gas fees on the Ethereum network.
● Security — Unlike what is obtainable from a typical L2 or sidechain, Aurora has no independent consensus algorithm to process transactions off the base layer. Its network relies on the security infrastructure of Ethereum and the NEAR protocol’s base layer.
● Scalability, Speed, and High throughput- Being an offshoot of the NEAR Protocol, which is reputed as one of the highest performing base layer blockchains, Aurora benefits directly from the NEAR protocol’s operating efficiency.
● Low gas fees — Gas fees are often a crucial consideration in any blockchain project as it sets the tone for user engagement. Aurora takes a top-shelf spot for its remarkably low gas fees.
● The Rainbow Bridge — This enables the transfer of assets between the NEAR protocol’s Aurora and other robust blockchains like Ethereum.
● ETH as base currency — A very unique characteristic of Aurora is the choice of Eth as its base currency. Transaction fees in Aurora are denominated in ETH, while the native $Aurora token merely serves as a governance token.
Although the NEAR protocol appears to maintain a low profile in its current state, there are a plethora of reasons to think of its ecosystem as one with the prospects to experience explosive growth in no distant future.
With the internal efficiency already established within the NEAR protocol’s base layer, and the EVM compatibility embodied in the Aurora sub-network, it is not out of place to conclude that the parent chain of the Aurora project will garner sufficient exposure as more projects are migrated to, or built on, the Aurora sub-network.