The bloXroute Scalability Solution
By Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic, Co-Founder and Chief Architect
*This post was updated on October 23, 2020
bloXroute solves the scalability bottleneck for blockchains at its core: the network layer.
In our previous blog post we explained why scalability solutions such as FIBRE and Falcon, Compact and XThin Blocks, and Graphene are insufficient in solving the scalability bottleneck.
- Fibre and Falcon can increase performance of blockchains but at the cost of placing power in the hands of the network owners
- Compact and Xthin Blocks increase TPS by reducing the amount of data each block contains, but initial results in a very small, controlled network show a relatively modest increase
- Graphene reduces block size through a bloom filter and IBLT, but bloXroute can outperform it.
So, what is different with bloXroute?
bloXroute brings two major novelties: transaction-based neutrality and dramatic scalability advances. bloXroute is a transaction-based neutral network. This means that bloXroute by design cannot stop nodes, wallets, users, transactions, or blocks from utilizing the BDN.
A major aspect of bloXroute’s uniqueness lies in the way it helps propagate information in a blockchain network. Contrary to first-generation relay networks, bloXroute propagates transactions among blockchain nodes. By propagating transactions on behalf of users, bloXroute manages to effectively index these transactions using much shorter IDs. Thus, when blocks are propagated through the network, bloXroute utilizes such IDs, effectively compressing the amount of data that needs to be carried through the network. Additionally, bloXroute optimally streams data through a well-provisioned dedicated network infrastructure and enables the processing of a high volume of on-chain transactions.
bloXroute’s architecture is innovative at multiple levels. First, bloXroute transforms the access plane, i.e., the way blockchain nodes access bloXroute. There are two ways to access the BDN: 1. Users with a full node can run a Gateway (either a Local Gateway or Hosted Gateway) or 2. users who do not have a full node can use bloXroute’s Cloud-API.
A Gateway is a piece of open source code deployed at a blockchain node that quickly transmits transactions and blocks to and from nearby bloXroute servers. To a blockchain node, a Gateway looks no different than another peer node; yet, it enables access to the bloXroute network. Gateways help with performance since they significantly shrink the data transmitted through the access link using the transaction IDs explained above. In the network sense, a Gateway is a high-end server that is paired with a blockchain node. This is similar to the approach taken by Akamai’s CDN, which deploys edge servers close to millions of end users, thus improving their Web experience.
bloXroute’s unique architecture ensures that bloXroute by design cannot stop nodes, wallets, users, transactions, or blocks from utilizing the BDN. bloXroute does this using transaction-based neutrality, meaning it ensures all nodes are kept in sync regarding the transactions waiting in the mempool to be included in a block. bloXroute ensures synchronicity by periodically sending updates to Gateways on new transactions, of which bloXroute cannot prevent or delay from being included in the update.
If for any reason a Gateway realizes its transaction has not been included in the update, it can send its transaction to the p2p network to continue its propagation and thus not be censored. This model removes the need for data to be encrypted, which also alleviates the concern of DDOS attacks sending large amounts of encrypted data and delaying the network. Users can utilize the bloXroute BDN as a router that is optimized for blockchain technology. The protocol runs underneath the blockchain, making it the first layer-0 solution.
Implementation: No protocol changes and gradual deployment
How does a blockchain (or a cryptocurrency) community utilize the opportunity and newfound capacity provided by bloXroute? By simply adjusting the block size and inter-block time interval parameters. bloXroute requires no blockchain protocol change beyond this parameter adjustment to fully utilize bloXroute’s capacity. We will provide guidelines for each individual blockchain. The recommended scaling parameters, i.e., inter-block time and block size, will be based on the experimental results from our global testbed. bloXroute as a transport layer is complementary to the native consensus protocol used, and it is capable of boosting performance, often dramatically, for any blockchain. But again, the protocol itself does not change; the validity requirements remain the same, as is the structure of blocks and transactions, and all the messages among nodes.
Another important question is what fraction of blockchain nodes need to deploy Gateways at their machines in order for the blockchain community to scale-up the protocol parameters? In short, the more nodes that deploy Gateways the better but it is not necessary for all the nodes, or even the majority of the nodes, to deploy Gateways, in order to allow the transition. This is because bloXroute creates value not only for the first individual miner or user, but for the entire network, including those not using the BDN. When a block is mined and sent to the BDN it will reach all miners and users faster and increase the overall network speed for everyone.
The BDN not only enables scalability, but also provides network insights and performance boosting tools for everyday users and blockchain service providers via our DeFi toolsuite and custom integrations.
In the same way Akamai helps millions of Web users around the world with their vigorous server deployment at edge networks, bloXroute’s unique architecture can help every individual blockchain community. Whether they consist of hundreds or ten thousands of nodes, they will greatly benefit from dramatic scalability advances. In our next post, we will dive deeper into the topic of bloXroute’s network.
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If you’re equally excited to solve the scalability bottleneck for all blockchains, consider joining our team! We are always looking for passionate partners to help us on this important journey. Check out our available positions to work with us in our Chicago offices.