[bitcoin-dev] Hard fork proposal from last week's meeting

David Vorick david.vorick at gmail.com
Wed Mar 29 20:28:35 UTC 2017

> > When considering what block size is acceptable, the impact of running
bitcoin in the background on affordable, non-dedicated home-hardware should
be a top consideration.

> Why is that a given?  Is there math that outlines what the risk levels
are for various configurations of node distributions, vulnerabilities,
etc?  How does one even evaluate the costs versus the benefits of node
costs versus transaction fees?

It's a political assessment. Full nodes are the ultimate arbiters of
consensus. When a contentious change is suggested, only the full nodes have
the power to either accept or reject this contentious change. If home users
are not running their own full nodes, then home users have to trust and
rely on other, more powerful nodes to represent them. Of course, the more
powerful nodes, simply by nature of having more power, are going to have
different opinions and objectives from the users. And it's impossible for
5000 nodes to properly represent the views of 5,000,000 users. Users
running full nodes is important to prevent political hijacking of the
Bitcoin protocol. Running a full node yourself is the only way to guarantee
(in the absence of trust - which Bitcoin is all about eliminating trust)
that changes you are opposed to are not introduced into the network.

> Disk space is not the largest cost, either today or in the future.
Without historical checkpointing in some fashion, bandwidth costs are more
than 2 orders of magnitude higher cost than every other cost for full
listening nodes.

This statement is not true for home users, it is true for datacenter nodes.
For home users, 200 GB of bandwidth and 500 GB of bandwidth largely have
the exact same cost. I pay a fixed amount of money for my internet, and if
I use 500 GB the cost is identical to if I use 200 GB. So long as bandwidth
is kept under my home bandwidth cap, bandwidth for home nodes is _free_.

Similarly, disk space may only be $2/TB in bulk, but as a home user I have
a $1000 computer with 500 GB of total storage, 100 GB seems
(psychologically) to cost a lot closer to $200 than to $2. And if I go out
and buy an extra drive to support Bitcoin, it's going to cost about $50 no
matter what drive I pick, because that's just how much you have to spend to
get a drive. The fact that I get an extra 900 GB that I'm not using is
irrelevant - I spent $50 explicitly so I could run a bitcoin node.

The financials of home nodes follow a completely different math than the
costs you are citing by quoting datacenter prices.

> I don't know how to evaluate the impacts of RAM or CPU usage, or
consequently electricity usage for a node yet.  I'm open to quantifying any
of those if there's a method, but it seems absurd that ram could even
become a signficant factor given the abundance of cheap ram nowadays with
few programs needing it.

Many home machines only have 4GB of RAM. (I am acutely aware of this
because my own software consumes about 3.5GB of RAM, which means all of our
users stuck at 4 GB cannot use my software and Chrome at the same time).
0.14 uses more than 1 GB of RAM. This I think is not really a problem for
most people, but it becomes a problem if the amount of RAM required grows
enough that they can't have all of their programs open at the same time.
1GB I think is really the limit you'd want to have before you'd start
seeing users choose not to run nodes simply because they'd rather have 300
tabs open instead.

CPU usage I think is pretty minimal. Your node is pretty busy during IBD
which is annoying but tolerable. And during normal usage a user isn't even
going to notice. Same for electricity. They aren't going to notice at the
end of the month if their electricity bill is a dollar higher because of

> The consequence of your logic that holds node operational costs down is
that transaction fees for users go up, adoption slows as various use cases
become impractical, price growth suffers, and alt coins that choose lower
fees over node cost concerns will exhibit competitive growth against
Bitcoin's crypto-currency market share.  Even if you are right, that's
hardly a tradeoff not worth thoroughly investigating from every angle, the
consequences could be just as dire for Bitcoin in 10 years as it would be
if we made ourselves vulnerable.

This is very much worth considering. If transaction fees are so high that
there is no use case at all for people unwilling to buy extra hardware for
Bitcoin (a dedicated node or whatever), then there is no longer a reason to
worry about these people as users. However, I think the fees would have to
get in the $50 range for that to start to be the case. When talking about
emergency funds - that is, $10k+ that you keep in case your government
defaults, hyperinflates, seizes citizen assets, etc. etc. (situations that
many Bitcoin users today have to legitimately worry about), then you are
going to be making a few transactions per year at most, and the cost of
fees on a home node may be $150 / yr, while the cost of dedicated hardware
might be $150/yr ($600 box amortized over 4 years). We are two orders of
magnitude away from this type of fee pressure, so I think it continues to
make sense to be considering the home nodes as the target that we want to

>  What about periodically committing the entire UTXO set to a special
checkpoint block which becomes the new de facto Genesis block?

This should be discussed in another thread but I don't think I'm alone in
saying that I think this could actually be done in a secure / safe /
valuable way if you did it correctly. It would reduce bandwidth pressure on
archive nodes, reduce disk pressure on full nodes, and imo make for a more
efficient network overall.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/bitcoin-dev/attachments/20170329/930defe5/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the bitcoin-dev mailing list