ZelNodes — Dates, Specs, Network Upgrade, Payout Cycles, etc.

Code is released. See Wiki link below for up-to-date progress information, setup guides, benchmarking requirements

Github Wiki link — Benchmarking, ZelNode/Control wallet setup guides, etc.

Before we jump into the latest information, please be familiar with our previous articles regarding ZelNodes:

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With just under 10 days until the ZelNodes code release on January 31st 2019, this Medium article will act as a large info dump to get everyone up to speed on current progress and the required elements needed to have a node ready to operate. Note: This will be the general information on project progress. Install scripts, guides, and Youtube walk-throughs will follow.

For this post, I will assume you are up to speed on what ZelNodes are, the basic collateral and VPS spec. requirements, and the general rewards structure (all explained in “ZelNodes project overview” link above). Here we will detail:

  1. Current progress
  2. Additional elements to be built before rollout
  3. Hardware specs for operators running bare metal
  4. Specifics about ZelNodes reward payouts
  5. The complete rollout process and dates
  6. Community components, required support, and planned resources to help stand up a ZelNode

Current Progress

The ZelNodes project was mapped out into 4 distinct phases:

  • Phase 1 — Storyboarding, flow charts, scheduling, etc.
  • Phase 2 — Developing the ZelNode structure and incorporating into the ZelCash daemon including required RPC calls
  • Phase 3 — Building the necessary communications between the nodes, ability to sign messages, communicate between ZelNode daemon and the control wallet, etc.
  • Phase 4 — Incorporate the 3 tiers of nodes (Basic, Super, & BAMF)

Phases 1 & 2 are complete, 3 is done and in testing, and 4 is currently being built now. All these phases are on schedule with the original roadmap.

Basic ZelNode active on testnet

Planned Additional Features

Currently, ZelNodes require the use of a full node wallet to act as the control/rewards wallet in order to provide the necessary signed messages between the control wallet and the VPS daemon.

We are working on utilizing the ZelCore wallet, with light addresses, to interact with your ZelNode(s). This requires a fair amount of work, but will vastly simplify the collateralization and payout processes, and the Zel Team feels this will be a huge value-added feature to have at launch. With this ability, ZelNode operators will be able to see their balances in real time from any of their devices. This feature will help set ZelNodes apart even more from other projects since previous MN projects typically require a full node wallet and a complete copy of the chain data.

This will also start the research into shielding via light addresses (Sapling) for the Zel project, which has always been one of the goals for ZelCore, and will again set us apart from other projects in the future.

Hardware specifications for running your own server

The ZelNode network is going to be a huge leap forward in the crypto space by providing massive amounts of computing and storage power that is fully decentralized in both ownership and geographic location around the world. Current computational networks have been hamstrung by either low-power nodes, or not having the computing power necessary before a use-case is rolled out, bringing the networks to a crawl (e.g. feline-based games). The VPS specs/performance requirements have always been rather large compared to other projects where masternodes only process transactions. ZelNodes will be running dapp backends, smart contracts, sidechains for asset layers, among other uses we haven’t even thought of yet. All this will be possible because of the sheer amount of resources available before being absolutely needed.

The VPS hardware spec. is a guideline for those that are unfamiliar/new to the hardware realm. There are still minimum benchmark requirements (described below) that must be met. For this reason, there are some VPS providers that might technically supply the minimum hardware, but if the components are old and/or the systems over-utilized by the provider provisioning too many users to the same physical server, an operator might not make the minimum benchmarking requirements. There are many good VPS providers out there, and the Zel Network is meant to be enterprise-grade, so cut-rate providers will most likely not pass requirements in the long-term. DYOR.

Many VPS providers have servers with the required specifications ready to instantly purchase at a monthly rate. For those wishing to run their own hardware, we have developed specifications that we feel are fair to the operator and also provide the network with the necessary horsepower to realize the Zel goals (price/performance). These are estimated minimal specs, and there are just way too many hardware combinations to list all possible configurations. Also these are treated as enterprise servers and require data center-level internet connections. If you are running your own hardware, please be aware of the capabilities of your servers as compared to these specs, and that oversizing a server isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as newer families of chips/components will also help save on the power bill. Also, unless you have experience running Enterprise-grade servers, we do not recommend running from your home unless you are sure you can meet the benchmarking and uptime requirements; co-location to a respectable data center is always recommended if running your own hardware.

RE: Operating system — Ubuntu 16 will be the preferred OS, and Ubuntu 18 should also work. Older versions will not have the required support, while some other Linux distros might work, but Ubuntu is recommended for now until more testing can be finalized. Plan accordingly.

RE: IP addresses — ZelNodes will support both IPv4 and IPv6 formats.

BAMF ZelNode Tier

  • CPU: Intel Xeon E5–2690 or better (circa 2012+)
  • RAM: 32GB DDR3 (ECC w/ Xeon) or better
  • SSD: 600GB [SATA III, 6Gb/s] or greater with I/O speeds > 250MB/s
  • 6 TB monthly bandwidth (inbound+outbound, 100mbps+ up/down)

There are almost an infinite number of hardware combinations that could possibly meet the performance specs as the system above. If you want to build something different, please be certain your system performance will meet or beat the above specs.

Super ZelNode Tier

  • CPU: Intel i5 or i7 with 4+ cores and hyper-threading (circa 2017+)
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3/4 or better
  • SSD: 150GB [SATA III, 6Gb/s] or greater with I/O speeds > 250MB/s
  • 4 TB monthly bandwidth (inbound+outbound, 100mbps+ up/down)

Again, there are so many possible combinations of hardware that can meet this spec. Any components newer than 2017 should be able to run a Super node, including AMD Ryzen chips. It is possible to run this configuration with a NUC-style computer.

Basic ZelNode Tier

Note: In most cases, it’ll be cheaper to use a VPS provider to host a Basic node due to bandwidth requirements.

  • CPU: Intel i3 2.0 GHz or greater, Gen 4 (Haswell) or higher
  • RAM: 4GB DDR3/4 or better
  • SSD: 50GB [SATA III, 6Gb/s] or greater with I/O speeds > 250MB/s
  • 2.5 TB monthly bandwidth (inbound+outbound, 100mbps+ up/down)

It is possible to run this configuration with a NUC-style computer.

Current Benchmarking Requirements

Subject to change as testnet develops

See the benchmarking wiki for scripts, commands, and requirements

BAMF (8vCore, 32GB RAM, 640GB SSD)

  • CPU | Sysbench events per second (60k max prime, 20 seconds): > 500
  • SSD IOPS | Nench total iops: > 700
  • SSD speed | dd speed (count=10k): > 200 MB/s

Super (4vCore, 8GB RAM, 160GB SSD)

  • CPU | Sysbench events per second (60k max prime, 20 seconds): > 250
  • SSD IOPS | Nench total iops: > 700
  • SSD speed | dd speed (count=10k): > 200MB/s

Basic (2vCore, 4GB RAM, 80GB SSD)

  • CPU | Sysbench events per second (60k max prime, 20 seconds): > 130
  • SSD IOPS | Nench total iops: > 700
  • SSD speed | dd speed (count=10k): > 200MB/s

ZelNode Payout Structure

ZelNode rewards will be paid out for each block find via a “round robin”-style mechanism. This means that for each block, one ZelNode from each tier will receive their designated payout. These nodes will then go to the back of the list, and nodes that haven’t received a payout for the longest time will be next in line to receive payouts.

After ZelNodes launch, each block will have 4 transactions: the POW payout, and the 3 ZelNode tier payouts. The coin will need to be confirmed and shielded before payout, but nodes will receive payouts based on their position in the payouts list, meaning you will receive payouts as soon as possible instead of on a weekly or monthly schedule.

ZelNodes Rollout & Dates

If you have been following ZelCash for a bit, you might have noticed that ZelNodes is one of, if not the largest, projects we have undertaken. The launch of ZelNodes was pushed back from Q4 of 2018 to January 31st 2019 to coincide with our 1-year anniversary and allow the required time to develop the correct strategy for standing up ZelNodes. In order to have a successful network rollout, many factors must be done correctly at launch to ensure a healthy and vibrant future for ZelNodes.

As touched on above, we believe that aiming to have lightweight address support for the control wallet will set us apart from previous projects (along with the massive node computing power). This has become a necessary goal of ZelNodes and requires some time to develop. Another critical component is that the network will need to undergo another upgrade to support ZelNodes. If you have followed other masternode projects, some have tried to perform this network upgrade and node rollout on the same day, usually to minimal success, or actual failure. There must be time in between the network upgrade and node launch to ensure a successful, bug-free rollout.

Offsetting the code release from the ZelNode activation will also allow us to cover many other bases, including having a public beta/testnet of the ZelNodes network, train our team and community members to provide hands-on support to new operators, allow time to troubleshoot and fix bugs not caught in internal testing, have all nodes stood up at the same time so those with more Linux skills aren’t capturing rewards while others take time to install (much like our slow start for POW at ZelCash launch), and also allow time to test more VPS providers and generate a larger recommended VPS list.

Considering everything above, the ZelNodes rollout schedule will be as follows:

  • ZelNodes code release on January 31st 2019 (1-year anniversary)
  • ZelNodes activation (and rewards) on February 21st 2019 (3 weeks after code release, estimated block height: 278,000)

This offset schedule will allow all people who wish to operate a ZelNode the necessary time to source their VPS/hardware, install the software, and set up their control wallet to be ready for payments. This process seems to be the most fair solution and will provide the greatest level of decentralization possible, rewarding both the person new to this entire process and the Linux gurus. The ZelNodes webpage will be finalized ~24 hours after this Medium article is posted.

Community Help & Support Documentation

There will be 3 layers of support for helping operators stand up their ZelNodes.

Some members of the community have graciously volunteered to help create install scripts, which will require minimal input from the user, to streamline the process for those unfamiliar with nodes installation and/or Linux. These scripts will be audited by the Zel Team and community, and officially hosted on the ZelCash Github to ensure trust in the script. Of course, you can build and install everything yourself if you wish.

The second layer will be thorough and easy-to-follow installation guides, both in written and video formats. We will try to find members to help with translations but that is never guaranteed, so the videos will show the step-by-step process to make it easier to follow along. These guides will be announced as soon as they are ready and spread out across all our social media platforms to ensure easy accessibility.

And as always, we have our excellent Discord community with the Zel Team, mods, and members that can help guide the process and answer any questions that may arise.

The Zel Team is so excited for this release and we hope the community is ready for this long-awaited piece of the project. ZelNodes is a giant achievement for many reasons, but most important, will power all future Zel technology as we all work together to build the next generation of blockchain products.

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Written by Zel Technologies, GmbH —21 January 2019 — Rev. 1

<https://zel.cash>
<https://zelcore.io>
<https://zelid.io>