What are nodes?
This post is focused only on p2p (decentralised) networks. By using such networks, there is no longer a need for one server or entity to control the network and it’s participants. Instead, there are several distributed and decentralized peers (nodes).
A node is a device or computer that connects to the blockchain network and allows it to function and sustain. Nodes are distributed across a widespread network and carry out a variety of tasks. Any device connected to the network is called a peer. Peers are either non-validating (lite node), or a validating node that contributes to network consensus (full node).
Having more nodes in the network won’t help to speed up the transaction time, but more does help provide a greater degree of network availability. A transaction needs only a single node to verify it, but a majority of the network needs to confirm it.
Masternodes are compensated full nodes, paid out from the block reward that supports the network by hosting an entire copy of the coin’s ledger while maintaining a minimum reliability and performance standard set by the rules of the network. Masternodes can also increase the privacy of the transactions, permit instant transactions, can take part in voting mechanisms and treasury systems and allocation of budget funds.
Networks with the biggest number of nodes?
Current numbers of nodes in the Bitcoin network are around 10 thousand full nodes. While miners process transactions, nodes are responsible for broadcasting messages across a network, this process is called: confirmation of transactions. Once transactions are mined into a block by a mining node, the result is propagated through the network and becomes valid once a majority of nodes agrees on the result. The result is a solution to a complex random problem issued by the network that miners must solve before being able to write to the ledger. As the amount of nodes in a network increases, the security of the network improves, because this translates into more copies of the full blockchain, containing all the transactions since genesis block (the creation of the blockchain). https://bitnodes.earn.com/
The main problem here, is that full nodes are not incentivised to keep up with increasing network requirements, mainly storage of the database which grows with every minted block, mined in an already defined average time (BTC 10 mins, ZEN 2.5 mins). This causes an issue of a decline in the amount of full nodes in a blockchain where node operators are not directly economically incentivised by new coin issuance, but have other interests for doing so (usually business infrastructure or for development purposes). Another problem would be the node’s geographic distribution, with a considerable concentration in the US. Other benefits from running a full node are helping the blockchain node system to be more robust and by being your own custodian of your funds. The number of individual full node operators in blockchains, where there is not a reward system, is decreasing.
Ethereum’s network has almost 8,000 nodes. These are not masternodes and therefore node operators are not rewarded. https://www.ethernodes.org/history The node count in the past was much larger, but without rewards there is not a sufficient appealing reason to run such nodes for free.
Dash Masternodes are probably the most known. They are paid by the network for the PrivateSend, InstantSend and governance services they provide. 45% of the block reward is allocated to the masternodes, 45% to miners and the rest 10% to the treasury . There are under 5,000 nodes online currently. Considering the actual price of a DASH coin and the requirements of staking 1,000 coins and running their software on a VPS, requires a significant financial investment for an everyday user to achieve.
The current number of masternodes online is 4,900 https://masternodes.pro/stats/dash/statistics
Zcoin masternodes are known as Znodes and their role is to verify Zerocoin transactions. Block reward allocated percentage for this type of node is 30%. Requirements for running a Znode are to stake 1000XZC and having a VPS running the Znode 24/7 as is the case for Dash.
Number of masternodes online is 5,650 https://masternodes.online/currencies/XZC/
Pivx masternodes verify and anonymize transactions and store a full copy of the blockchain. In return they earn masternode rewards and have the ability to vote on community proposals. Setting up a Pivx masternode requires a 10,000 PIV stake and they are involved in the validation of transactions and other services such as: Instant transactions (SwiftX), decentralized governance (Proposal Voting), A decentralized budgeting system (Treasury), Immutable proposal and voting systems.
Number of masternodes online is 1,421 https://masternodes.online/currencies/PIVX/
Horizen has the largest node network with a multi-tiered node system, establishing one of the most secure, distributed, geographically dispersed, and resilient networks in the industry. This network of nodes forms our infrastructure layer, which is the foundation for our application platform, which provides unbounded additional functionality via the future integration of sidechains and dApps hosting. Horizen has two classes of nodes: Secure Nodes and Super Nodes. Communication between nodes is fully end-to-end encrypted using TLS encryption. Secure and Super Node operators each receive an equal share of 10% of the block rewards. https://www.horizen.global/zennodes/
For almost two years, the Horizen community has built this network slowly but steadily. Even in the worst (bearish) of times the numbers have increased substantially, now over 30k nodes. This massive network is a real pride for the whole Horizen community and the Team!
Why is this number important?
Greater number of nodes in the network provide better stability, it is stronger and more resilient to attacks. Improved decentralisation is what we are seeking from the start. With such a vast number of nodes that is still increasing in numbers, you don’t have to worry about your business applications on Horizen, they will always have self sustained infrastructure providing you reliability and security.
Super Nodes have significant computation power, which will be used in the near future to support a fully decentralized and generalized sidechain application ecosystem. With sidechains, which are currently in Beta phase and is a major priority of the Team (https://www.horizen.global/assets/files/Horizen-Sidechains-Decoupled-Consensus-Between-Chains.pdf ), Super Nodes will finally get real usage leveraging their vast computational power. Sidechains present an elegant solution to build on top of PoW blockchains, without having to change the core protocol too much. Releasing the SDK and a reference sidechain will enable users to start designing and building applications on top of Horizen using different programming languages and protocols, adding more value to the project and new sources of revenues to node owners.
The Super Nodes will be used to monitor Sidechain to Mainchain coin transfer. Then, the mainchain won’t have to do the work and that will permit the blockchain to be more scalable. Another interesting fact is the number of challenges on the network per day is on average about 1/3rd of the total secure/super node count. A challenge, is designed to prove the capability of a node. A challenge consists of a random block being chosen from the blockchain by the Horizen node tracking system, the node then looks up specific information pertaining to the chosen block, and then creates a private transaction to send the results back to the tracking system through the blockchain.
Since challenges come every 72 hours and there are ~30k nodes, that means approximately 10,000 shielded transactions per day are coming from challenges. Challenges are no different from any other Z (shielded) transactions when viewed through a block explorer. Due to the large number of shielded transactions, the network has a cloud of shielded transactions that make it quite difficult to identify any ordinary shielded transaction on the network. Also, since these challenges are a necessary part of proving network performance, it guarantees a level of censorship resistance from mining pools limiting shielded transactions. End result of this scheme is that Horizen has many thousands of times more shielded transactions than Zcash.
Requirements between those two node classes are different.
500 ZEN are needed for Super Nodes and 42 ZEN are required for Secure Nodes.
Major requirements are:
- Dedicated PC or VPS for the sole use as a Secure Node and provision the required level of resources (CPU, RAM, Disk).
- Maintain a balance of at least 42 ZEN (for Secure Node) or 500 ZEN for (Super Node) as a ‘stake’ in transparent address which is on user side.
- Static ip address and valid public SSL cert properly configured for ZEN.
- Need to have 96% up-time for Supper Nodes and 92% up-time for Secure Nodes in order to qualify for rewards.
It is clear from these requirements that nodes must be both powerful and reliable machines, capable of some serious computation.
Horizen’s node network has largely flown under the radar of the crypto community. Horizen’s numbers are legitimate and verifiable through independent analysis. The properly aligned incentive structure of the network has provided us with rapid network growth. Long ago we already passed many other projects in full node count, including Bitcoin.
This is where the magic starts
Only 42 ZEN are needed to run a Secure Node, that is something that an ordinary crypto enthusiast can afford. Almost anyone can participate without much effort, to support this project and be rewarded for doing so. This setup requires a dedicated VPS and static IP address; with all the support from the team and community and the various guides on the Horizen wiki, this won’t be a problem. You will be able to choose the best VPS for you and setup and maintain it for yourself. If you aren’t too comfortable with Linux system administration or simply don’t have the time, there are a large number of hosting providers that do all the hard work for you. The Horizen community is very welcoming, and helps people of all skill levels participate and support the network.
Horizen Secure nodes are first in the list, filter by number of nodes with over 30k nodes in total. Filtered by the volume Horizen is in the top. Numbers are definitely stronger on the Horizen side!
If you already have 42 zen and you want to setup a Secure Node.
Before you start, check some numbers:
- Zen Nodes — Calculator:
Another interesting and handy calculator can be found here: https://www.stakingrewards.com/calculator
- Check community VPS list, driven and maintained by community feedback https://horizenofficial.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/ZEN/pages/136872080/Community+VPS+List
- Check community Hosting and Setup page for a list of various hosting provider https://horizenofficial.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/ZEN/pages/136872080/Community+VPS+List
- If you decide to setup your own Secure or Super node here is instruction https://horizenofficial.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/ZEN/pages/136872139/Installation
For all those who are not tech savvy, join Horizen Discord channel and you will get most all technical help you need. https://discordapp.com/invite/Hu5mQxR
Team is available 24/7 and you can get the most accurate information and instant help you need. One very important information, locked — stacked coins will be in your own wallet, no one else should have control over your private keys!
Good luck with your Node!
Learn more about Horizen and other blockchain technologies:
The Horizen Academy is free and open to everyone who has the desire to learn more about these fascinating technologies…
Thanks to those who helped me writing this article, and for the support (community and team members):
Born and raised in France, Manon has a commercial background. She also has a degree in management and worked for great companies in France. She found a passion in blockchain technology and she dedicates all her time to learn/teach about this blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Also she is a traveller with 25 countries visited for now.
Nate is an electronics and automation systems specialist working within the civil aviation sector for the past 10 years. He’s been involved with blockchain technology as a hobby since early 2015. Currently contributes to Horizen as a volunteer member, mostly providing technical support, software testing/development, and document writing. Nate also runs a small scale mining and node operation from home. He’s part of the “Free State Project” and is an avid ZenVangelist within that community.
Discord:@Sto1cNate#0398 Twitter: @Sto1cNate
Ruben is a Mechatronic Engineer and have worked in international companies such as John Deere and Heineken, working as a PLC programmer and as a Design Engineer. He has a keen interest in cryptocurrencies and state of the art technologies, always eager to learn new things, passionate about how things work and solving engineering problems. Nowadays Ruben’s attention is headed towards blockchain to witness and form part of this revolutionary technology.
Discord: @UANL91 | BD#5480