9th May 2018

Nodes, and how much do they cost to run?

by William Murch

If you want to gain a better understanding into the intricacies of blockchain technology, then exploring the role of nodes is absolutely essential.

 

Put simply, a node is a connection point that can receive, create, store, or send data along distributed network routes. The bitcoin blockchain system acts like a sea of replicated databases knowns as the decentralised ledger. Within this system, important members act as nodes, where transactions (payments) and block data are checked and passed around. Each node separately checks the data being entered onto the ledger to ensure its validity and safeguard the ledger from incorrect information such that the ecosystem works as intended.

 

The Bitcoin Node Distribution as of 9th May 2018:

The Bitcoin Node distribution stretches across the entire world, however as you can see the Western countries lead the way. Of the global bitcoin nodes, around 25% are situated in America. Surprisingly, China comes in at only 3rd, with 809 nodes, which make up 7.81%. 

 

Most nodes that run within the network work as described previously. However, out of roughly 11,000 nodes on the bitcoin blockchain system, only a few act as full nodes. Full nodes are different in the sense that they fully implement all the core consensus rules of the cryptocurrency network by using the code as programmed in the associated full node software of the blockchain. In other words, full nodes download every block and transaction, and check them against Bitcoins core consensus rules. Some examples of the rules full nodes follow are given:

 

  • Blocks may only create a certain number of bitcoins. (Currently 12.5 BTC per block.)
  • Transactions must have correct signatures for the bitcoins being spent.
  • Transactions/blocks must be in the correct data format.
  • Within a single blockchain, a transaction output cannot be double-spent.

 

 

If the transaction does not act in accordance with any of these rules it will be automatically rejected. These core rules help to stop acts such as double spending, and are a crucial in maintaining Bitcoin’s blockchain ecosystem.

 

You might ask why we need to run multiple nodes? In short more nodes equals more decentralization. As there are more nodes across the globe the ability to take down the network is drastically reduced. The amount of full nodes running on the network is something the community must pay attention to, because if community members are no longer willing to act as nodes then it may be left to big players and companies to pick up the slack. This will lead to greater centralisation and ability to manipulate the bitcoin blockchain, and thus the price.

 

Why wouldn’t people run nodes? Frankly, It costs money to run a node due to its technology prerequisites and energy consumption.  Depending on whether this is your average PC user or a massive bitcoin mining farm there will be associated running costs. The main running cost is the price of electricity as this can change drastically depending on where you live. Thanks to active redditor ‘BeijingBitcoins’ we can somewhat accurately say that for a typical user running a Lenovo T440 Thinkpad with an Intel i5, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD (£400) with a refurb ot 8Gb RAM (£250) would expect an Internet bill of around £40 a month and and running electricity costs of £2.70 a Month (or £32.4 per year).

 

Do you run a full node? Let us know how much it costs you by getting in contact with Blockchainers.

 

If you’re looking for more information about nodes or even how to set one up here are some great links:

 

https://bitcoin.org/en/full-node#what-is-a-full-node

https://99bitcoins.com/step-by-step-guide-firing-up-bitcoin-node/

http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/node

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