[bitcoin-dev] INV overhead and batched INVs to reduce full node traffic

Jonathan Toomim j at toom.im
Fri Feb 26 05:35:14 UTC 2016

The INV scheme used by Bitcoin is not very efficient at all. Once you take into account Bitcoin, TCP (including ACKs), IP, and ethernet overheads, each INV takes 193 bytes, according to wireshark. That's 127 bytes for the INV message and 66 bytes for the ACK. All of this is for 32 bytes of payload, for an "efficiency" of 16.5% (i.e. 83.5% overhead). For a 400 byte transaction with 20 peers, this can result in 3860 bytes sent in INVs for only 400 bytes of actual data.

An improvement that I've been thinking about implementing (after Blocktorrent) is an option for batched INVs. Including the hashes for two txes per IP packet instead of one would increase the INV size to 229 bytes for 64 bytes of payload -- that is, you add 36 bytes to the packet for every 32 bytes of actual payload. This is a marginal efficiency of 88.8% for each hash after the first. This is *much* better.

Waiting a short period of time to accumulate several hashes together and send them as a batched INV could easily reduce the traffic of running bitcoin nodes by a factor of 2, and possibly even more than that. However, if too many people used it, such a technique would slow down the propagation of transactions across the bitcoin network slightly, which might make some people unhappy. The ill effects could likely be mitigated by choosing a different batch size for each peer based on each peer's preferences. Each node could choose one or two peers to which they send INVs in batches of one or two, four more peers in which they send batches of two to four, and the rest in batches of four to eight, for example.

(This is a continuation of a conversation started on https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1377345 <https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1377345.new#new>.)

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