Phase {4} Preview: Genesis Node Operators Application

Welcome to the latest update on the progression of the Fleek Network road to mainnet. Phase {3} testnet is set for launch next week introducing the capability for developers to build and deploy edge functions. These functions will showcase the robust edge computing features of Fleek Network for the first time and lay the foundation for future edge compute-enabled services and use cases. Phase {3} will run for 2 weeks.

Looking ahead past testnet Phase {3}, Phase {4} represents a significant future milestone on the road to mainnet. It's not just the next phase (estimated to start in March/April), it’s also the transition to a long-running and stable testnet that will run for 3-6 months as a prelude to mainnet.

Phase {4} Testnet Will Introduce:

  • Complete Initial Protocol Functionality
  • New Protocol Enhancements and Additions
  • Fleek Network Genesis Node Operators
  • Fleek Network OG Devs Program
  • Fleek Network Grants Program

Phase {4} Preview

The Phase {4} testnet will include the full functionality originally intended for this initial version of the network, as well as a few exciting recent protocol enhancements and additions. This includes things like the addition of a small storage component and SGX chips to node specs, which adds significant usefulness to the network and the services/use cases it can support (explained in more detail in the section below).

Phase {4} will also introduce the Fleek Network Genesis Operators (GO’s), a set of around 50-100 initial node operators that the Foundation will select based on both merit and geographic location to run nodes during the Phase {4} testnet. For those interested, please read this entire blog and then click the link at the bottom to apply.

Another new initiative for Phase {4} will be the Fleek Network OG’s, an initial cohort of projects and developers who are planning to build and/or leverage Fleek Network services and functionality in their projects and use cases.  The official OG Devs application and info will be made available at some point in February, but in the meantime, we encourage anybody interested to reach out in Discord. There are already a few exciting projects lined up to participate and there is still room for plenty more.

The final new initiative that will be launching in conjunction with the Phase {4} testnet will be the Fleek Network Grants Program. More details will be shared as we get closer to Phase {4}, but we anticipate that the grants program will be made available to active participants of the Genesis Operator and OG Dev programs, as well as the broader Phase {4} testnet and mainnet developer community.

All of the above combined is going to make Phase {4} the most important, realistic, and exciting testnet phase on the road to mainnet, and serve as the real kicking-off point for Fleek Network itself as well as the Fleek Network node operator and developer ecosystems.

Phase {4} Node Update: SGX Chips

One of the exciting protocol additions coming in Fleek Network Phase {4} testnet is the integration of SGX chips into node specifications, which the Fleek Network core team has been researching and testing for the past few months. Integrating SGX chips enables the network to support several important use cases that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, which adds critical usefulness and value to the network. These SGX-enabled use cases include things like handling API secrets, environment variables, key signing, encrypting inbound/outbound data, helping prevent collusion among nodes, etc.

The decision to integrate SGX Chips will impact the network in a few different ways such as increasing the requirements and cost of running nodes, increasing the barrier to entry to run nodes (less availability/options on cloud platforms), as well as increasing the complexity of the network. But all things considered, adding SGX is extremely net positive for the network and will likely result in increased revenue and profitability for node operators due to the additional capabilities and use cases SGX now enables. And the other impacts (higher requirements/cost of running nodes, less cloud availability) will likely reduce cloud nodes and increase nodes running on dedicated hardware, which will likely end up being beneficial for the network from a cost, performance, and decentralization standpoint.

Feedback and conversations with developers planning to build on Fleek Network is what helped drive this protocol addition, and there are already several projects planning on leveraging the SGX capabilities of the network for their use cases.

What are SGX Chips?

Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) represent a set of security-related instruction codes built into some Intel central processing units (CPUs). These instructions allow the creation of private regions of memory, known as enclaves. The design of SGX is such that the data and operations within these enclaves are isolated and protected.

The primary function of SGX is to provide a secure area within a CPU where sensitive computations can be executed, and sensitive data can be stored. When data is processed within an enclave, it is encrypted in memory and only decrypted within the CPU itself. This feature ensures that the data is unreadable and unmodifiable by any other software, including even the node running the operation. This means that even if a system is compromised, the data within the enclave remains protected.

One of the key advantages of SGX is its ability to support secure computation on untrusted systems. Applications can leverage SGX to perform confidential computations in environments where the underlying hardware, operating system, or system administrator cannot be fully trusted.

Despite the robust security features, SGX is often misunderstood. Common misconceptions include doubts about its efficacy and concerns about potential backdoors. It's important to note that while no system can be deemed completely infallible, SGX's design aims to minimize risks and provide a high level of data protection. Detailed discussions and defenses of SGX can be found in resources like this article on "Debunking TEE FUD - A Brief Defense of the Use of TEEs in Crypto".

Apply to Be a Genesis Operator

Anyone interested in becoming a Genesis Node Operator for the Phase {4} testnet, especially those with experience running SGX-enabled hardware, can apply here.

The Foundation will reach out with more details and the next steps for those who have been identified in this early application stage as potential good fits to be Fleek Network Genesis Operators.

Stay updated on the developments of Phase {3} and Phase {4}, including the upcoming programs and initiatives, by following the updates on X and Discord

-Fleek Foundation