Nomad provides cheap cross-chain communication channels, which are (documented here). From there we have to decide which chains are worth connecting. The map of connections between chains is called the network topology.

Nomad's Topology

Generally, Nomad follows a Hub and Spoke network topology. That is to say, one chain (Ethereum) is the logical hub of the Nomad network. We guarantee that all other chains have active channels to Ethereum. While connections between spokes may exist, we don't guarantee that they do.

Hub and Spoke topology has a number of advantages:

  1. It guarantees a route from point A to point B exists.
  2. It makes finding that route very simple.
  3. It guarantees that the route is at most 2 hops.
  4. It allows applications to assume direct communication with their own hub.
  5. It minimizes the number of channels we must deploy and maintain
  6. It allows us to directly connect spokes if there is a compelling reason to do so

Other Options

IBC follows a Mesh topology, which does not guarantee that any specific cross-chain channel exists. Instead, users must observe the available channels and chart a route that hops across some number of channels to get to their destination.

Some networks may follow a Total Graph topology, which guarantees that all chains are connected to all other chains. This results in a very large number of channels, but cuts out all route finding.

For Developers

xApp developers may make the following assumptions:

  • That a Nomad channel to Ethereum exists on any chain in the Nomad network.
  • That a xApp contract deployed on Ethereum can communicate directly with xApp contracts on any chain in the Nomad network.
  • That this will remain true as new chains are added to the Nomad network.