The TOP Network Node Ecosystem | Gearing Up For Main Net
With the main net scheduled to launch in the coming months, the node campaign is set to get underway soon. The full details including specifications and rewards will be released before main net, along with simple guides on how to set up a node of your own. There will be several types of nodes to choose from, most of which only require a relatively simple deposit process to become eligible.
However, with TOP Network using quite a few different types of nodes, it can be a bit confusing! This preliminary document will provide general explanations of each type of node, including their purpose and duties, and the process of becoming one. If anything is hard to understand, don’t get overwhelmed! There will be plenty of resources to help the community become more familiar with each type of node.
Also note that you don’t necessarily need to understand exactly how it all works to run a node. That being said, the more you know, the easier it will be to become a great node operator.
Nodes — and the community behind them — are the lifeblood of every blockchain ecosystem. Therefore, the process of setting up a node will be made as simple as possible, and there will be guides and support from team members along the way. We aim to uphold the decentralized and permissionless ethos, which means anyone should be able to contribute to the ecosystem, and be rewarded for their efforts!
There are four main types of nodes in the layered consensus network. Together, these nodes store, update, and secure the main chain. This includes tasks like transaction/block validation, cross-shard transaction/block routing, cross-shard synchronization, on-chain governance, and a few other things. These nodes will be vital to the operation and performance of TOP Network.
- Consensus Node (Validator)
Purpose and Duties:
Consensus nodes — which are also referred to as validators — are probably the most familiar type of node. These nodes will be relatively abundant within TOP due to sharding. Consensus nodes produce blocks and validate transactions within their shard using pBFT consensus. They also store account states corresponding to the shard they are currently placed in.
How To Become a Consensus Node:
To become a consensus node, the comprehensive stake requirement must be satisfied. This form of staking takes into account asset stake, and accumulated reputation. Additionally, there are some hardware and bandwidth requirements.
So long as a node meets the minimum deposit requirement, it will be sorted into a shard. However, the chances of being selected as a pBFT leader are weighted according to the node’s reputation, which is similar to a credit rating. The value of the rating ranges from 0.1 to 1, and can be increased over time by successfully validating transactions. Going offline for too long, or attempting to cheat will send the credit rating back to the lowest level.
For rewards, 75% is distributed to the pBFT leader of the current round, while 25% goes to the rest of the nodes in the shard based off of their total stake.
There is no artificial cap on consensus nodes, meaning that if a node meets the minimum deposit requirement, they will be able to join the consensus network. So anyone who wants to create a consensus node should not feel deterred, even if they do not have an abundance of resources or recognition.
There will even be ways to participate if an individual does not have enough tokens to meet the minimum asset stake requirements. The goal is to remove as many barriers to entry as possible, so that practically anyone can become a consensus node and earn rewards.
The exact deposit requirements, credit system, and reward distribution will be explained further in an update dedicated to staking and token economics.
2. Advanced Node (Router/Auditor/Governance)
Purpose and Duties:
Advanced nodes reside in the Routing Network, and facilitate cross-shard transactions and cross-shard synchronization, while also performing secondary audits on all transactions. Advanced nodes also produce blocks and secure the beacon chain, which is used for matters regarding on-chain governance, deposits/voting, and more. The purpose and functioning of the beacon chain will be explained further in the technical spotlight series.
Advanced nodes are randomly partitioned into clusters, with each cluster responsible for a certain subset of shards.
In general, Advanced nodes need to be more powerful than consensus nodes. This is especially true in terms of network resources, as cross-shard transactions/synchronization can require a fair amount of bandwidth. In the future, there could be many shards which together are facilitating tens of thousands of TPS. While it would seem that bandwidth requirements would become prohibitive, they actually can remain at a reasonable level due to network sharding.
Basically, Advanced nodes only need to deal with transactions that come to and leave from the shards they are responsible for. The process is also aided by an extremely efficient network topology and routing algorithm, which will be detailed in the technology series. The key takeaway is that bandwidth requirements of Advanced nodes do not skyrocket as the network grows.
Some other projects that aim to implement sharding do not use anything similar to TOP’s Advanced nodes. Without the Advanced nodes, the consensus nodes would need to take on all cross-shard transaction routing/synchronization duties in addition to consensus, which could make node requirements prohibitive.
How To Become An Advanced Node:
There are two main factors involved with becoming an Advanced node: asset stake, and voting. First, a certain amount of TOP tokens must be deposited. Then, the node must garner a quantity of votes greater than or equal to the deposit requirement.
The odds of being selected as a pBFT leader depends upon both acquired votes, and credit rating. Again, credit rating can be increased by successfully participating in pBFT rounds, and not going offline or doing anything malicious. While Advanced node selection does involve voting, there is no imposed node limit, making it the first permissionless version of DPoS.
In other DPoS systems where voting is used, all nodes are competing against each other for a finite number of spots. The extreme competition which results can leave out all but the most wealthy or well-known individuals. For Advanced node DPoS* selection, a node simply needs to make the minimum deposit, and then corral an equal number of votes. The nodes are not limited in number, and so participation is not contingent up the failure or success of other nodes. This allows the barrier of entry to remain relatively low and constant.
3. Archive Nodes
Archive nodes are Advanced nodes with an additional job: store the entire ledger. The requirements to become an Archive node are the same as Advanced nodes, except twice as much. Of course, Archive nodes must also have enough disk space to store the entire ledger. Since the consensus nodes and non-archival Advanced nodes regularly prune the portions of the ledger they store, Archive nodes will be important for maintaining the full history of the blockchain.
4. Edge Nodes
Edge nodes act as the access point for clients. All transactions are first sent to Edge nodes, who then relay them to Advanced nodes. The Edge network helps protect the consensus network from DDOS attacks and spam. The only requirement to become an Edge node is a small deposit. Also note that there can only be one Edge node per IP address.
Consensus nodes, Advanced nodes, Archive nodes, and Edge nodes will receive rewards from the 38% of tokens reserved for miners. With the current model, the rewards for the first year are looking to be very generous! Stay tuned for the staking and token economics article for a more detailed description of distribution and rewards.