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Diversifying execution clients for Coinbase's ETH staking

February 28, 2024

Coinbase Cloud is diversifying its Ethereum staking architecture by adding support for Nethermind and Erigon execution clients. This infrastructure update enhances the security of our customers' staked assets, as well as the underlying blockchain.

Adding support for Nethermind and Erigon

Coinbase Cloud is committed to securing our customers’ assets and to supporting the long-term health of the Ethereum network. We’re happy to announce we’re adding support for the Nethermind and Erigon execution clients, which will diversify the execution layer within our Ethereum staking nodes.

Previously, Geth was the only execution client that met our technical requirements for our staking architecture. This additional implementation is a result of a thorough examination of the available client software, which have undergone tremendous improvements since our last evaluation, and continues Coinbase Cloud’s history of supporting client diversity on Ethereum. By incorporating Nethermind and Erigon, our Ethereum validators will be even more resilient.

Our first Nethermind clients will go into production this week, and over the next several weeks, we plan to migrate roughly 50% of our validators to Nethermind. We plan to add Erigon support in the coming months. Our long-term intention is to maintain a diverse array of client software across our nodes, at both the consensus and execution layer, and to regularly monitor and evaluate additional clients under development to bring even more variety to our Ethereum staking infrastructure.

This is a backend infrastructure change: customers with staked assets will not need to take any action to take advantage of this enhancement. Coinbase Cloud continues to prioritize the security of customer assets above all else. No customer has ever lost crypto while staking with Coinbase.

The importance of client diversity

An Ethereum validator consists of three pieces of software: a beacon node (i.e., consensus client), a validator client, and an execution client, which is responsible for processing transactions and executing smart contracts.

Client diversity across both the consensus and execution layer helps fortify the network from bugs that might affect any single client.

Two years ago, Coinbase Cloud diversified our consensus layer client offerings to help rebalance the network after more than two-thirds of validators had come to rely on one client (Prysm). Today, approximately 39% of validators use Prysm, followed by Lighthouse (33%), and Teku (19%). 

Now, Coinbase Cloud is focused on execution client diversity to further improve client diversity on Ethereum.

How we evaluate potential execution clients

Coinbase Cloud balances a desire for client diversity with robust technical requirements for performance and reliability. At our scale, it is critical the clients we evaluate meet our high standards before we consider using them in our node architecture.

We acknowledge the amazing work the Geth team has done to maintain a long-standing and mature execution client. In the past, Geth was the only client that met those standards, but our recent evaluation has shown that alternative execution clients have made significant progress and now align with our rigorous standards and we’re happy to support them. 

When evaluating clients, here are our guiding criteria:

Client stability and metrics

We review the volume and frequency of past incidents, their level of severity, and their mean time to resolution. 

Client history of success 

We are excited about new software and innovations. However, we require a sustained history of success before onboarding a new client because our top priority is ensuring the security of customer funds. For example, we are excited about the Reth project, and will continue to monitor progress as the project matures. 

Compatibility with our infrastructure

New clients and modifications are examined deeply to ensure seamless integrations. When evaluating this, we look at client compatibility with our current infrastructure, including with our consensus clients. We also consider how efficient and easy a client is to run, and how stable it is within our existing infrastructure. During this most recent evaluation, we were excited to see what the Linux Foundation and community is doing with Besu, but found that Nethermind and Erigon had more compatible integrations with our infrastructure as it exists today.

Looking forward

Client diversity is crucial in building and maintaining a resilient network, which impacts the entire Ethereum ecosystem. We are glad to see the progress and maturity of execution clients available to operators today and believe that Nethermind, Besu, and Erigon are all excellent alternatives to Geth today. Long-term we are looking forward to the potential performance benefits from the Rust-based Reth project, as well as other innovations in the space that will provide additional variation to Ethereum staking operations.

By implementing an array of execution clients from multiple vendors, we have mitigated the risk of being dependent on any one client. This decision not only enhances the reliability and stability of the many validators we operate at Coinbase Cloud, but also ensures the entire Ethereum network is more robust.


This document and the information contained herein is not a recommendation or endorsement of any digital asset, protocol, network, or project. However, Coinbase may have, or may in the future have, a significant financial interest in, and may receive compensation for services related to one or more of the digital assets, protocols, networks, entities, projects, and/or ventures discussed herein. The risk of loss in cryptocurrency, including staking, can be substantial and nothing herein is intended to be a guarantee against the possibility of loss. Reward rates listed herein are estimates, are not guaranteed and are set by the protocol and remain subject to change. Actual rate of rewards earned may vary significantly and may be zero. This document and the content contained herein are based on information which is believed to be reliable and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but Coinbase makes no representation or warranty, express, or implied, as to the fairness, accuracy, adequacy, reasonableness, or completeness of such information, and, without limiting the foregoing or anything else in this disclaimer, all information provided herein is subject to modification by the underlying protocol network. Any use of Coinbase’s services may be contingent on completion of Coinbase’s onboarding process and is Coinbase’s sole discretion, including entrance into applicable legal documentation and will be, at all times, subject to and governed by Coinbase’s policies, including without limitation, its terms of service and privacy policy, as may be amended from time to time.