V21 Athena is live

Zach Hyatt
Jun 16, 2020 · 4 min read

With months of hard work in the bag, we are excited to share that V21.0 of the Nano node is now available for deployment on the main network. Athena brings better performance, support for increased work levels, and improved communication between nodes, as well as important foundational updates for future releases.

We think Athena is an excellent upgrade for all nodes participating on the network, and recommend those with implementations of the node to check the upgrade notices below.

The Nano Foundation couldn’t have reached this fantastic milestone without the ever-helpful community of developers, beta testers, and ecosystem participants working with Nano every day. Athena is an achievement we can all celebrate together and will ensure that Nano remains on, and pushes further, the cutting edge of decentralized digital money!

We’ve included some highlights of the release below, but encourage all node operators to review the V21 Release Notes in detail as they make plans to upgrade their nodes and services. Not only are there a few upgrade considerations to be made, but also useful improvements that might be missed without checking out the latest documentation!

Upgrade Notices

Database upgrades
An in-place database upgrade will occur with this release to accommodate epoch-related flags. Machines will need at least 30GB free disk space to accommodate the upgrade and network participation and RPC responses will be interrupted during this time.

As a result, the recommended approach is to upgrade the ledger in a separate environment before replacing it on production. Learn more…

Minor RPC breaking changes
Although breaking changes were kept to a minimum in this release, there are two RPC calls with such changes: work_validate and bootstrap_status. For integrations using them, carefully review the additional details on these changes included in the RPC Updates section.

Upcoming epoch v2 upgrade
The new work difficulty increases supported in V21 will be enabled after the distribution of epoch v2 blocks. Because work requirements will change at that point, all integrations generating work are encouraged to review the details on the Network Upgrades page under the Upcoming Upgrades section ahead of the epoch V2 distribution.

Additional communications will be sent out to our Technical Updates Mailing List and other channels as we approach the epoch distribution period, so stay tuned for more details.

UDP disabled by default
With all active peers capable of communicating via TCP, the UDP connections will be disabled by default in this version. Although most nodes should operate normally with V21, if there are concerns, there are some simple RPC calls to verify a node is still well connected.

Major Updates

Work difficulty increase
As mentioned in the Upgrade Notices section above, work difficulty changes were implemented in V21, but will not be activated until epoch v2 blocks are distributed at a future date. Please review the Upcoming upgrades section of the Network Upgrades page for details.

Node telemetry
Telemetry has been added between peers, to allow better communication between nodes about various performance and other details. Various version details, account and block counts, active difficulty, and more can be discovered from individual peers or summarized across them.

For those interested in learning more, see the WebSocket, RPC, and protocol level details.

IPC 2.0
This background upgrade will provide more performant communication to the node. Node operators don’t need to take any action around this change but should keep an eye out for future RPC 2.0 notices which will provide very helpful improvements based on this!

Better election alignment and performance
We consistently focus on making the node more efficient and performant, and with Athena, the election process got some great updates behind the scenes that will reduce resource usage by nodes, particularly network bandwidth. Nano gets more efficient with every release!

Other changes

There are plenty of other great changes coming with Athena, from RPC updates improving block_create and account_info endpoints, to new bootstrap and new_unconfirmed_block WebSocket topics. Helpful debug CLI commands like — debug_generate_crash_report and configuration updates helping improve log file naming and rotation.

All these useful features are covered in the V21 Release Notes — go there to see the full details in all their glory!

As with other Nano node releases we are excited to see the performance improvements on the network so encourage all node operators to test and upgrade as soon as possible. For the entire list of issues, PRs and commits you can take a tour through the changelog on GitHub. Binary builds, Docker tags and install commands can be found in the Current Release documentation.

As we shift away from V21 development we will be focusing on providing support for upgrades via our Forum and other channels, working towards the work difficulty upgrade using epoch blocks and also preparing for the next node update with V22.

Make sure to follow us here on Medium, Twitter, and explore more on Nano.org, and if you’ve read this far, you’re just the right person to sign up to our Technical Mailing list.

We’re looking forward to seeing nodes running V21 Athena!

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