Exploration of the scalability of blockchain TPS: Why does BBP technology bring about excellent performance changes?

Blockchain is an operating system-like infrastructure in the Metaverse and web3 world, and its performance determines the future development of the digital economy. At this stage, the blockchain generally has the problem of weak transaction data processing ability. This makes the performance of Bitcoin and Ethereum unable to compete with centralized systems, which fundamentally restricts the development of many applications on the blockchain. Therefore, it is urgent to enhance the scalability of the blockchain, that is, to achieve higher transaction data processing speed (TPS).

Invisible Block Propagation BBP Technology Focusing on Layer 0

In order to achieve more efficient blockchain transaction data processing, solutions for expanding the capacity of the blockchain have been proposed. The current expansion plans are blooming.

The industry generally divides the six-level data layer, network layer, consensus layer, incentive layer, contract layer and application layer of the blockchain system into three layers, which are Layer 0 (L0) and Layer 1 (L1) from bottom to top. and Layer 2 (L2). Layer 0, also known as the network transport layer, mainly involves the integration between blockchain and traditional networks. Most of the current mainstream capacity expansion solutions focus on the L1 and L2 layers, and there are few cases of successful capacity expansion by improving the L0 layer (network layer).

The Layer 1 capacity expansion solution, also known as on-chain capacity expansion, refers to the capacity expansion solution implemented on the blockchain base layer protocol. The Layer 2 expansion solution, also known as off-chain expansion, refers to improving transaction processing speed through solutions such as state channels and side chains without changing the underlying protocols and basic rules of the blockchain. However, none of these expansion schemes are at the expense of security, which is the limit of the blockchain CAP theory.

In April of this year, the blockchain research team from Shenzhen University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong proposed a new L0 layer block propagation and verification technology, namely Bodyless Block Propagation (BBP) technology, which does not require transmission. Block without loss of security, breaking through the CAP theory.


(Dissertation information published on Cornell University’s online academic website arXiv)

The authors of the paper noticed that in the current public chain, transactions have problems of repeated transmission and serial verification. The repeated transmission of the transaction means that the transaction itself will be broadcast and transmitted on the entire network alone; after the transaction is packaged into the block, it will be broadcast and transmitted on the entire network together with the block. The serial verification of the transaction means that after the transaction is packaged into the block and broadcast on the entire network, each verification node will verify the block after receiving the block. Due to these problems, the more transactions a block contains, the slower its propagation and verification in the network, which greatly restricts the TPS of the blockchain. What BBP wants to achieve is to improve TPS by eliminating the restriction of the number of transactions in the block on the propagation time and reducing the block verification time.

Specifically, BBP technology only transmits block headers between nodes, and each node predicts, prepackages, and verifies transactions of new blocks in advance, so that the verification of new blocks in the process of block propagation is only the pre-computed global The state is confirmed by a simple comparison with the global state embedded in the block header. Therefore, no matter how large the transaction volume is in each block, the propagation time and verification time are only the time of one block header (fixed), and are no longer restricted by the number of transactions, and each block can accommodate as many number of transactions. At the same time, BBP technology utilizes the principle that in addition to the block-producing node, other nodes are also performing block-producing calculations, and shifts block propagation and block verification from a serial relationship to a parallel relationship. Therefore, BBP eliminates the restriction of the number of transactions in the block on the propagation time and reduces the block verification time from the basic protocol design, completely improves the TPS, and releases the performance of the blockchain.


(Comparison of transaction propagation and verification in traditional blockchain and transaction propagation and verification in BBP)

BBP performance expansion dashes forward but challenges remain

However, it is not easy to achieve the above technical goals, and it is necessary to take into account many aspects and solve several technical challenges at the same time:

1. How to ensure that the predictions of all nodes are roughly the same before pre-packaging a block body. Since there is no presumed-trust between nodes on a decentralized blockchain, nodes can, in principle, choose transactions to their liking and seal them in blocks. In Ethereum, nodes usually select transactions and then sort and pack them into blocks to maximize GAS revenue. In order to make decisions made by decentralized trustless nodes consistent, the new scheme must act as an incentive for nodes to prepackage nearly identical blocks by following common rules.  

2. If the transactions predicted by the nodes are slightly different, how to coordinate them to be consistent. Since the blockchain operates on a decentralized P2P network, transactions on different nodes are likely to be different. Therefore, even though all nodes follow the same rules for selecting transactions and pre-packaged into blocks, these blocks may be different. It is worth noting that in Ethereum, differences in individual transactions in the block body or differences in the packaging order may lead to differences in the verification summary information in the block header. When nodes select transactions and their ordering is slightly different, BBP becomes invalid once all transactions need to be reordered and revalidated when a block arrives. Therefore, the new scheme should be able to make transaction predictions made by different nodes consistent before the arrival of new blocks.

3. How to deal with some unobtained information in the pre-validation process. Since some of the information used to validate the block may not be known until the new block arrives, the block cannot be fully pre-validated. For example, some transactions may involve Coinbase addresses associated with miners, but there is no way to know in advance which miners will succeed in the pre-validation process at each node. Therefore, in order to ensure the consistency of the entire process and make the TPS most efficient, the BBP’s pre-validation process must also be able to solve the problems that arise in such transactions.

The proposer of BBP technology gave the current solution on how to solve the above technical problems (for details, please refer to the paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/2204.08769), and carried out BBP on a large-scale blockchain network. experiment. The results show that the block propagation time of BBP is 4 times less than that of Ethereum (when it can support the maximum number of transactions).

Conclusion: Currently, the block propagation and verification time in the blockchain network restricts the performance of TPS. In addition, since many solutions to improve TPS come at the cost of reducing security, how to balance TPS and security is also a big problem that needs to be solved urgently. Stealth Block Propagation (BBP) with pre-validation can increase block propagation speed without compromising security compared to protocols on Ethereum. More importantly, the block propagation time of BBP is almost independent of the number of transactions in the block. Therefore, TPS will no longer be constrained by block propagation. In fact, when implementing BBP, it is equivalent to inserting a pre-packaged block body module and a pre-verification module as an extension to the transaction pool, so BBP is fully compatible with other lower and upper blockchain technologies. Finally, the experimental results also confirm that BBP has quite excellent performance in the scalability of TPS. Therefore, we have great expectations for the performance of BBP in the real blockchain system.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/exploration-of-the-scalability-of-blockchain-tps-why-does-bbp-technology-bring-about-excellent-performance-changes/
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