Essentials of Blockchain InfrastructureFor any technology, it is the infrastructure or framework that is important for its functioning. The infrastructure is a part of blockchain architecture. It is a combination of both hardware and software. To lay the foundation of the blockchain, one needs to have the infrastructure resources. To build a robust infrastructure, one of the important steps is to decide the use case. Since every organization has a different need, the use case defines how to move ahead. The use case can be data authentication, verification, smart asset management, or smart contract deployment. The storage and processing power are core elements similar to other advanced computing technologies. Further, there should be low latency for processing the transactions at a larger scale. Before moving ahead, let’s understand the core components of architecture which have 6 elements:
- Node: A computer that has a copy of the complete ledger.
- Block: A data structure maintaining the set of transactions dispersed throughout the network.
- Chain: Block arranged in a sequence.
- Transaction: The smallest building block of the blockchain network.
- Miner: The specific nodes that verify the blocks before integrating with the network.
- Consensus: Rules and arrangements in a blockchain network followed to carry out the transactions.
Blockchain Hardware RequirementsThe hardware maintains, operates, and coordinates the blockchain network. To keep the blockchain infrastructure functioning the hardware requires management and engagement. Discussing the core blockchain hardware requirements:
Blockchain and GPU (Graphic Processing Unit)In blockchain-related operations, a CPU cannot process streams of repetitive data at high speeds, such as executing many blocks of code. Therefore, GPU does the digital rendering of the computer system. The GPU can manage high computer density and many computations per second. GPUs are useful in blockchain mining and have 800 times more speed than a CPU. In addition, the GPU has an Arithmetic logic Unit to solve complex mathematical computations. The GPU helps allow faster processing, and using enterprise-grade GPU reduces operational costs. Also, the GPU doesn’t get affected by the hashing algorithm. The GPU-as-a-service is offered by centralized tech companies such as Google and Amazon. Thus blockchain-based platforms can leverage GPU by presenting decentralized networks .
Application-Specific Integrated CircuitsASIC chips compete with GPU; instead of being general purpose, they are specifically designed and integrated circuits. They have high computing capacity and work on less electricity. The circuits are employed for the purpose of mining. However, ASIC has centralized the mining as only a few companies afford to buy and set up mining farms. Furthermore, there are many ASIC-resistant tokens that GPU still mines. A recent development, Field Programmable Gate Arrays, are also giving competition to GPU.
NodesA node is a computer that carries out the function of storing records, validating transactions, and verifying blocks. Nodes are crucial in a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. All the nodes form a network and act as a communication hub. Anyone with a basic understanding of technology can run a node and feel like being a part of the blockchain network. Also, to be noted that running a node requires a large amount of RAM. This is where the wallets are useful to those blockchain users who have no interest in downloading the complete blockchain history. On the other hand, to run a master node, you need to deposit crypto as collateral. The collateral is collected so that just in case the masternode is exploited, the collateral will serve as a hostage. Firstly, there are full nodes to store all the blockchain data which is pruned periodically. Then there are lightweight nodes that keep the block headers of all the transactions. Lastly, there are archive nodes that store all the transactions, even those that can’t be found on a full node. The historical stats are stored on the archive node as the full nodes are pruned. The nodes that form the PoS network are:
- Participation nodes: A value is staked to become a validator or active participant. Later, the participant nodes create blocks, validate transactions, execute blocks and earn blocks.
- Read/write nodes: The nodes are there to obtain information and verify the transaction. It also writes data regarding smart contracts and other transactions.
- Sentry nodes: Sentry nodes or the proxy nodes stay private from the public. It works as a communication link between the participation node and the blockchain network. The sentry nodes act as a safety wall and protect participation nodes from attacks.
- Relay nodes: The nodes are essential to forming a communication between the node-to-node.