Maxwell left Blockstream in January to dedicate his time to “deep protocol work”, so this is the first fruit of his labor, apparently.
— Bryan Bishop (@kanzure) May 28, 2019
First announced last night in a post to the Bitcoin Core development mailing list, Gleb Naumenko from the University of British Columbia described Erlay as the announcement of each transaction only to eight outgoing connections, instead of to each peer as currently happens:
“Further relay is achieved by periodically running a set reconciliation protocol over every connection between the sets of withheld announcements in both directions. […] Results: we save half of the bandwidth a node consumes, allow increasing connectivity almost for free, and, as a side effect, better withstand timing attacks. If outbound peer count were increased to 32, Erlay saves around 75% overall bandwidth compared to the current protocol.”
Erlay hence addresses one of the critical pain points for the Bitcoin network, which is nodes consume huge amounts of bandwidth simply to remain in consensus, and is a major cost that full node operators must bear. Because the Bitcoin blockchain currently stands at a massive 200 GB of data, and continues to grow every 10 minutes, this means that a full node must spend days or even weeks to download the initial blockchain for verification and validation.
The Erlay white paper talks about the introduction of “diffusion” to Bitcoin, different from the current method which it brands as a “version of flooding”. It claims a more efficient model of propagating blocks across the network, reducing the bandwidth consumed by each node by as much as 75%.
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