Validator Onboarding

Distributed validators are managed within Clusters - the group of operators that were selected to operate them.

To run a validator through the SSV network, a user must distribute their validator key to their selected cluster and register it to the network’s smart contract.

This can be done via the web app interface or through the smart contracts and developer tools (see get started guide).

Operators Selection

To form your cluster, you must select your preferred group of operators to manage it.

The complete operator registry can be accessed through the’s webapp, explorer and SSV API.

The number of operators you select must be 3f+1 compatible, whereas f is the number of faulty operators that your cluster could endure (more operators, greater fault tolerance).

Supported cluster sizes:

Cluster Size (# of operators)

Fault Tolerance









Stakers have the freedom to select and customize the group of operators that will manage their validator cluster according to their own preferences:

Factors to consider in cluster formation:

  • Reputation - is permissionless network that is open to anyone to join as an operator. Operators can range from professional companies with proven experience in node operations all the way to home operators who are running their own infrastructure. The DAO maintains a curated-list of operators called “Verified Operators” to help stakers distinguish between them.

  • Performance - current and historical performance of operators is a great indicator of operators reliability. Stakers can track operators performance through the’s explorer to evaluate operators track record and to consistently monitor their validators.

  • Diversification - diversity of the cluster's tech stack enhances resilience to individual hardware and software failures, allowing distributed validators to remain operational even if a component fails. To mitigate single point of failures, a staker should strive to have operator diversification across various aspects such as execution and consensus clients, cloud providers, and geolocation.

  • MEV - every time a validator is assigned a block proposal, one operator within its cluster is selected to lead the proposal of the block. Given that MEV-enabled blocks are broadcasted through relays, only operators supporting the relay chosen by the leader can broadcast it to the network. Therefore, it is in stakers best interest to form their validator cluster with operators that has greater correlation in the relays they support:

    • Full Relay Correlation: When all operator nodes support the same relays, every node would broadcast the block, enhancing liveness beyond the industry standard.

    • Partial Relay Correlation: In cases where overlap is lacking, only operator nodes supporting the relay chosen by the operator leading the proposal will broadcast the proposal.

    • No MEV Support: In instances where a non-MEV operator leads the proposal of the block, the proposal would proceed but without any MEV rewards (vanilla block).

Operational Costs

The associated costs for running validators on the ssv network are determined by operator fees and network fees.

With the network embracing a free-market approach, where operators set their own fees, the cost for each validator will vary based on its operator setup.

In addition to fees, there’s a minimum balance requirement, known as liquidation collateral, that has to be deposited for each validator a user runs through the network.

Validator Funding

To carry validators operational costs, the validator's cluster must be funded with an appropriate amount of SSV (see Cluster Balance).

Funding can be made at any time to the cluster’s balance (see Deposits), but in case the first validator is onboarded to a cluster, the initial funding must be carried with its registration.

To calculate how much funding is needed to run a validator within its cluster according to a certain operation period and the required liquidation collateral:

RequiredFunding=(O1fee+O2fee+O3fee+O4fee+Nfee)(Period+LTP)Required Funding=(O1_{fee}+O2_{fee}+O3_{fee} +O4_{fee}+N_{fee})*( Period + LTP)
  • Legend

    • O14feeO1\dots4_{fee} - operator fee ($SSV per block)

    • NfeeN_{fee}- network fee ($SSV per block)

    • PeriodPeriod- desired operation period (blocks)

    • LTPLTP- liquidation threshold period (blocks)

Single Validator Funding Example

Assuming there are 100 blocks per day, operators and network fee of 0.001 SSV (per block) and a liquidation period of 1 month, the required funding for 1 year of operation period would be:

197.5 SSV = ((0.001 + 0.001 + 0.001 + 0.001 + 0.001) * 100 * (365+30))

Please note that maintaining your cluster’s operational runway is essential and a user could always deposit more balance to their account, or withdraw as they see fit.

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