RPIP-59: Deposit Mechanics Source

Describes the mechanics of node operator deposits and validator creation, including standard and express queues.
⚠️ This RPIP is not recommended for general use or implementation as it is likely to change.
Authorknoshua, Valdorff
Requires 42, 43, 44
ContributorLongForWisdom (@LongForWisdom), Samus (@orangesamus), Sckuzzle (@sckuzzle)

RPIP-59: Deposit Mechanics Source

Describes the mechanics of node operator deposits and validator creation, including standard and express queues.


Defines the queue structures that govern validator deposits and the overall deposit process for Rocket Pool node operators. The standard and express queue structures give mild priority to existing Rocket Pool node operators and initial node operator deposits through a ticket system.

This proposal also changes the deposit mechanics: In case of a queue, the initial stake transaction happens only once ETH is assigned. This makes it possible to exit from the queue and receive ETH credit up until the validator is dequeued.


These changes are intended to strengthen the protocol by 1) rewarding existing node operators who have shown amazing loyalty to the protocol 2) minimizing governance churn from RPL staked node operators being stuck in queue without voting privileges 3) prioritizing initial deposits to allow easier onboarding of people trialing Rocket Pool before deciding to migrate in full 4) maximizing Rocket Pool’s major decentralization advantage over other LSTs - a huge set of small node operators.

This RPIP is part of a set of proposals motivated by a desire to rework Rocket Pool’s tokenomics to ensure the protocol’s continued value, development, and longevity. For more details, see the supporting documentation here.


Deposit Queue Specification

This specification introduces the following pDAO protocol parameters:

Name Type Initial Value
express_queue_rate 2
express_queue_tickets_base_provision 2

ETH from the deposit pool SHALL be matched with validator deposits from queues as follows:

  • There SHALL be a standard_queue
    • When adding a validator, users SHALL be able to place their deposit in the standard_queue
  • There SHALL be an express_queue
    • When adding a validator, users SHALL be able to place their deposit in the express_queue by spending one express_queue_ticket
  • When matching ETH from the deposit pool to queued deposits:
    • First, ETH SHALL be matched to the oldest deposit in the express_queue; this is repeated express_queue_rate times
    • Next, ETH SHALL be matched to the oldest deposit in the standard_queue
    • This sequence SHALL be repeated indefinitely until both queues are empty
      • If one queue is empty, those matches SHALL be skipped
  • Each node SHALL be provided express_queue_tickets equal to express_queue_tickets_base_provision (this includes newly created nodes)
  • Each node SHALL be provided additional express_queue_tickets equal to (bonded ETH in legacy minipools)/4 (this will always be zero for newly created nodes)

Deposit Mechanics Specification

This specification introduces the following pDAO protocol parameters:

Name Type Initial Value
scrub_period Hours 12
time_before_dissolve Weeks 2

A node operator MUST take 2 actions to start a validator: deposit and stake

deposit Transaction

  • deposit SHALL place the node operator ETH in the deposit pool (where it can be used in validators as needed) and place the validator in a queue as described above
  • The following values for the validator SHALL be stored on chain:
    • the public key of the validator
    • the BLS signature over the public key, the withdrawal credentials (the megapool address of the node operator), and the amount (1 ETH) as required by the deposit contract
  • The transaction SHALL validate that:
    • the public key has length 48
    • the BLS signature has length 96
  • If possible, deposit SHALL assign one validator as described below

Assigning ETH from the Deposit Pool

  • ETH from the deposit pool SHALL be assigned the validator at the front of the queue by sending 32 ETH to the associated megapool contract
    • rETH mints SHALL assign floor(ETH_deposit / 32) validators
    • There MUST be a permissionless function to execute assignments
  • The assignment SHALL execute the prestake transaction, staking 1 ETH to the beacon chain using the values provided in the step above
  • The assignment SHALL remove the validator from the queue

stake Transaction

  • stake SHALL revert unless at least scrub_period time has passed since ETH was assigned to the validator, to allow for validating the prestake
  • If the beacon chain stake is invalid, the validator SHALL be scrubbed
  • stake SHALL stake the remaining 31 ETH to the beacon chain to make a complete validator
  • If stake is not called within time_before_dissolve after the ETH was assigned, the validator SHALL be dissolved, returning the unstaked balance to the deposit pool
    • If a validator is dissolved the bonded value SHALL be recoverable. This MAY require further action from the node operator. This MAY temporarily require additional ETH from the node operator.

Exiting Queue

  • Until ETH is assigned to a validator, it SHALL be possible to exit the queue and receive ETH credit for it

Social Assignments

  • The deposit.assign.socialised.maximum setting SHALL be set to 0


Deposit Queue

  • The express queue is meant to favor (a) small node operators and (b) existing node operators. The end goal in both cases is to support multiple values enshrined in RPIP-23 (the pDAO charter): decentralization, protocol safety, and the health of the Ethereum network.
    • The express_queue_tickets_base_provision is enough to get started, and currently matches the length of base_bond_array
    • The tickets from (bonded ETH in legacy minipools)/4 are enough to fully migrate to 4-ETH deposits during Saturn 1 using the express queue OR to partly migrate to 1.5-ETH deposits after Saturn 2
    • Tickets may be used or not at a node operator’s discretion and do not expire! This is because a node operator joining during a time when we don’t have a node operator queue is helping fill a protocol need, and it therefore doesn’t make sense for us to require them to incur the additional cost of using up a ticket. This means they get to keep their express queue benefit for a later time if they wish.
  • Validators with base_bond deposits are prioritized to promote decentralization; new or smaller node operators can get up to base_bond_array.length validators launched ahead of larger node operators adding reduced_bond validators.

Deposit Mechanics

  • prestake is moved back from deposit to assignment to allow for exiting of the queue
  • To allow anyone to execute prestake, the validator specific data is stored
  • Since adding prestake to assignments potentially increases gas cost for rETH deposits, social assignments are deactivated. node operators will be able to assign to themselves when at the front of the queue. Additionally, the pDAO may fund keepers that execute assignments automatically.

Security Considerations

Deposit Queue

  • express_queue_tickets_base_provision means that the queue favors sock puppets. It’s important to disincentivize small sock puppets as they get higher vote power than desired and would most damage the protocol if they took part in MEV theft (RPIP-42 security considerations discusses this further).
    • Immediately with Saturn 1 there is a drawback to sock puppets in the form of increased gas cost. They need to deploy multiple megapool smart contract instances and they need multiple transactions to claim beacon chain rewards.
    • With Saturn 2, we update reduced_bond to 1.5 ETH, which further disincentivizes sock puppets
  • Setting express_queue_rate to 0 disables the express queue and people currently in it are stuck indefinitely. Similarly, setting express_queue_rate to a very high value effectively disables the standard_queue. However, node operators would be able to exit the queue for credit.

Deposit Mechanics

  • Validation of provided data in deposit matches the validation that the beacon chain deposit contract does and therefore ensures that the prestake using the data will succeed
  • Disabling social assignments increases the likelihood of ETH accumulating in the deposit pool while validators are waiting in the queue. But the node operators in the queue that would be assigned ETH have a direct incentive to execute the assignments. In addition, we recommend that the pDAO funds (for example through the GMC) development and execution of assignment bots that assign ETH in the deposit pool to the queue at a reasonable gas price.
  • Assigning ETH from the deposit pool based on ETH deposit size could allow for gaming if the gas cost of multiple <32 ETH deposits is lower than a single deposit
    • To reduce gas of the single deposit, prestake could be decoupled from assignment. This would result in 3 necessary transactions to start a validator: deposit, prestake and stake. Analogous to assignments, prestakes could be subsidized by the pDAO.
    • Alternatively, assignments from ETH deposit could be deactived entirely. This would mean that all assignment and prestake transactions would have to be pDAO reimbursed and/or executed by the node operators.
  • Node operators are still able to perform arbitrage in case of a full deposit pool and a premium on rETH price, since the deposit transaction would assign to the validator immediately
  • The coupling of deposit and assignment also prevents indirect minting of rETH (by depositing, exiting the queue for credit and redeeming it for rETH) while the deposit pool is full

Copyright and related rights waived via CC0.


knoshua, Valdorff, "RPIP-59: Deposit Mechanics [DRAFT]," Rocket Pool Improvement Proposals, no. 59, March 2024. [Online serial]. Available: https://rpips.rocketpool.net/RPIPs/rpip-59.