[bitcoin-dev] Small Nodes: A Better Alternative to Pruned Nodes

Danny Thorpe danny.thorpe at gmail.com
Mon Apr 17 07:11:07 UTC 2017

1TB HDD is now available for under $40 USD.  How is the 100GB storage
requirement preventing anyone from setting up full nodes?

On Apr 16, 2017 11:55 PM, "David Vorick via bitcoin-dev" <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:

> *Rationale:*
> A node that stores the full blockchain (I will use the term archival node)
> requires over 100GB of disk space, which I believe is one of the most
> significant barriers to more people running full nodes. And I believe the
> ecosystem would benefit substantially if more users were running full nodes.
> The best alternative today to storing the full blockchain is to run a
> pruned node, which keeps only the UTXO set and throws away already verified
> blocks. The operator of the pruned node is able to enjoy the full security
> benefits of a full node, but is essentially leeching the network, as they
> performed a large download likely without contributing anything back.
> This puts more pressure on the archival nodes, as the archival nodes need
> to pick up the slack and help new nodes bootstrap to the network. As the
> pressure on archival nodes grows, fewer people will be able to actually run
> archival nodes, and the situation will degrade. The situation would likely
> become problematic quickly if bitcoin-core were to ship with the defaults
> set to a pruned node.
> Even further, the people most likely to care about saving 100GB of disk
> space are also the people least likely to care about some extra bandwidth
> usage. For datacenter nodes, and for nodes doing lots of bandwidth, the
> bandwidth is usually the biggest cost of running the node. For home users
> however, as long as they stay under their bandwidth cap, the bandwidth is
> actually free. Ideally, new nodes would be able to bootstrap from nodes
> that do not have to pay for their bandwidth, instead of needing to rely on
> a decreasing percentage of heavy-duty archival nodes.
> I have (perhaps incorrectly) identified disk space consumption as the most
> significant factor in your average user choosing to run a pruned node or a
> lite client instead of a full node. The average user is not typically too
> worried about bandwidth, and is also not typically too worried about
> initial blockchain download time. But the 100GB hit to your disk space can
> be a huge psychological factor, especially if your hard drive only has
> 500GB available in the first place, and 250+ GB is already consumed by
> other files you have.
> I believe that improving the disk usage situation would greatly benefit
> decentralization, especially if it could be done without putting pressure
> on archival nodes.
> *Small Nodes Proposal:*
> I propose an alternative to the pruned node that does not put undue
> pressure on archival nodes, and would be acceptable and non-risky to ship
> as a default in bitcoin-core. For lack of a better name, I'll call this new
> type of node a 'small node'. The intention is that bitcoin-core would
> eventually ship 'small nodes' by default, such that the expected amount of
> disk consumption drops from today's 100+ GB to less than 30 GB.
> My alternative proposal has the following properties:
> + Full nodes only need to store ~20% of the blockchain
> + With very high probability, a new node will be able to recover the
> entire blockchain by connecting to 6 random small node peers.
> + An attacker that can eliminate a chosen+ 95% of the full nodes running
> today will be unable to prevent new nodes from downloading the full
> blockchain, even if the attacker is also able to eliminate all archival
> nodes. (assuming all nodes today were small nodes instead of archival nodes)
> Method:
> A small node will pick an index [5, 256). This index is that node's
> permanent index. When storing a block, instead of storing the full block,
> the node will use Reed-Solomon coding to erasure code the block using a
> 5-of-256 scheme. The result will be 256 pieces that are 20% of the size of
> the block each. The node picks the piece that corresponds to its index, and
> stores that instead. (Indexes 0-4 are reserved for archival nodes -
> explained later)
> The node is now storing a fragment of every block. Alone, this fragment
> cannot be used to recover any piece of the blockchain. However, when paired
> with any 5 unique fragments (fragments of the same index will not be
> unique), the full block can be recovered.
> Nodes can optionally store more than 1 fragment each. At 5 fragments, the
> node becomes a full archival node, and the chosen indexes should be 0-4.
> This is advantageous for the archival node as the encoded data for the
> first 5 indexes will actually be identical to the block itself - there is
> no computational overhead for selecting the first indexes. There is also no
> need to choose random indexes, because the full block can be recovered no
> matter which indexes are chosen.
> When connecting to new peers, the indexes of each peer needs to be known.
> Once peers totaling 5 unique indexes are discovered, blockchain download
> can begin. Connecting to just 5 small node peers provides a >95% chance of
> getting 5 uniques, with exponentially improving odds of success as you
> connect to more peers. Connecting to a single archive node guarantees that
> any gaps can be filled.
> A good encoder should be able to turn a block into a 5-of-256 piece set in
> under 10 milliseconds using a single core on a standard consumer desktop.
> This should not slow down initial blockchain download substantially, though
> the overhead is more than a rounding error.
> *DoS Prevention:*
> A malicious node may provide garbage data instead of the actual piece.
> Given just the garbage data and 4 other correct pieces, it is impossible
> (best I know anyway) to tell which piece is the garbage piece.
> One option in this case would be to seek out an archival node that could
> verify the correctness of the pieces, and identify the malicious node.
> Another option would be to have the small nodes store a cryptographic
> checksum of each piece. Obtaining the cryptographic checksum for all 256
> pieces would incur a nontrivial amount of hashing (post segwit, as much as
> 100MB of extra hashing per block), and would require an additional ~4kb of
> storage per block. The hashing overhead here may be prohibitive.
> Another solution would be to find additional pieces and brute-force
> combinations of 5 until a working combination was discovered. Though this
> sounds nasty, it should take less than five seconds of computation to find
> the working combination given 5 correct pieces and 2 incorrect pieces. This
> computation only needs to be performed once to identify the malicious peers.
> I also believe that alternative erasure coding schemes exist which
> actually are able to identify the bad pieces given sufficient good pieces,
> however I don't know if they have the same computational performance as the
> best Reed-Solomon coding implementations.
> *Deployment:*
> Small nodes are completely useless unless the critical mass of 5 pieces
> can be obtained. The first version that supports small node block downloads
> should default everyone to an archival node (meaning indexes 0-4 are used)
> Once there are enough small-node-enabled archive nodes, the default can be
> switched so that nodes only have a single index by default. In the first
> few days, when there are only a few small nodes, the previously-deployed
> archival nodes can help fill in the gaps, and the small nodes can be useful
> for blockchain download right away.
> ----------------------------------
> This represents a non-trivial amount of code, but I believe that the
> result would be a non-trivial increase in the percentage of users running
> full nodes, and a healthier overall network.
> _______________________________________________
> bitcoin-dev mailing list
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org
> https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/bitcoin-dev
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/bitcoin-dev/attachments/20170417/02c3dd58/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the bitcoin-dev mailing list