High Performance Blockchain Fundamentals

Blockchain technology is a phenomenon of the last decade and it gained a lot of attention, especially in late 2017 and early 2018. Most people have already at least heard of Bitcoin, but blockchain technology is much more than Bitcoin.

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies and their use cases are far beyond just transferring value. For good or bad, death rate within this new emerging industry is massive and many of these cryptocurrencies won’t be around in few years time.

I wrote this text to give you a deeper understanding of fundamentals that I believe are going to make HPB thrive in future. To be completely transparent, I do hold HPB and I’m part of HPB node network as Nitro Node. I’m trying to be as objective as possible and sources are added where possible.

 

 

The problem and the solution

As you might know, the blockchain industry has been plagued with a low Transactions Per Second (TPS) bottleneck. Everyone who’s been around for a while remembers when CryptoKitties congested the most popular smart contract platform Ethereum to the point where it became pretty much unusable and I think this made many people realize how far from readiness for mass adoption blockchain technology actually is.

Different projects take different paths to tackle this bottleneck. Some decided to increase their performance by significantly lowering the number of nodes, some are trying to solve this on a software level for example by implementation of sharding or second layers. One aspect these projects have in common is that all of them use conventional hardware that was not designed for running a blockchain, and this is where HPB differs.

With offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore, the team is taking a very unique approach to tackle the TPS bottleneck to balance the blockchain trilemma — how to be fast and cheap enough to enable mass adoption but not at the expense of decentralization and (thus) security.

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HPB is a permissionless blockchain architecture that combines customized open-source hardware (the BOE, or Blockchain Offload Engine) with High Performance Blockchain software. If you remember how ASIC miners changed BTC mining, or how GPUs changed the gaming industry, you might likely come to the conclusion that creating a blockhain dedicated hardware is a very logical step to take for the whole industry. Even internet speed was vastly increased thanks to hardware advancements such as ADSL or fiber optics.

HPB is the first player in the market that has successfully designed and manufactured hardware dedicated to enhance blockchain transaction speed. There is a very good article on hardware and scaling and another article on how such a hardware is designed and manufactured from one of the community members who works as an engineer in a hardware developing company.

BLOCKCHAIN OFFLOAD ENGINE

As the name of the hardware indicates, its purpose is to offload CPU load from the node servers.
BOE chipset consists of multiple FPGA chips that are configured to exercise a certain function through VHDL language. These chips are heterogeneous in functionality and thus work differently than chipsets which are only able to perform one function.

Part of the BOE is the ECDSA (Ecliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm) module that performs signature verification at high rate and is essential for the network to be able to process thousands of signatures per second.

At the BOE Launch and Reveal event in July 2018 there was a live test of two identical servers — one with the BOE hardware unit and one without. The non-BOE server took 40 seconds using 76% of CPU to process 200,000 inspection data. The one with the BOE took 8 seconds to process the same amount of data, usig only 5% of the CPU. That’s 5 times faster while using only a fraction of CPU!

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Blockchain data is already well protected, but BOE sets security on a completely different level! Any malicious actors would have to overcome not only the software, but also the hardware part of the network. HPB has an extra layer of security because the BOE has an in-built hardware random number generator. Random numbers are generated through FPGA chips and sensory bodies that are configured to register voltage and temperature differences at extremely low levels.

For instance, it detects a variance of 0,00001volt! To quote wikipedia about hardware random number generators “They are are more secure alternative to Pseudo Random Number Generators (PSNGs) software programs.

They produce sequences of numbers that are assumed not to be predictable, and therefore provide the greatest security when used to encrypt data.”

Hardware random number generator also adds extra functionalities for developers building on HPB. You can simply send a smart contract with a call for a seed to get a true random number and usecases are endless. You can think of gambling, lotteries, chance-based events in games etc.

Other parts of the BOE are the MAC module that handles processing of data packets transferred from Ethernet cables and the TCP/IP Offload engine (TOE), which optimizes throughput for high-speed Ethernet systems.

Full Blog can be read here medium.com/@NitroNode/high-performance-blockchain-fundamentals

By @Nitramydes

 


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