Bitcoin-NG: Will It Really Solve the Virtual Currency’s Scaling Crisis

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by Polina Chernykh · 3 min read
Bitcoin-NG: Will It Really Solve the Virtual Currency’s Scaling Crisis
The organizing committee of the Scaling Bitcoin workshop in Montreal, Canada. Photo: Victoria van Eyk/Flickr

Developers from the Cornell University have introduced Bitcoin-NG, a new project aimed at solving the problems that arise with the growth of the digital currency network.

A group of researchers from the Cornell University have presented a project targeted at solving the issues affecting the bitcoin network, while speaking at a Scaling Bitcoin conference held in Canada on September 12-13.  Named Bitcoin-NG, the proposal was developed by professor Emin Gün Sirer, student Adem Efe Gencer, research scientist Robbert Van Renesse and post doc associate Ittay Eyal.

One of the main issues discussed at the conference was the necessity to boost the processing capacity of the cryptocurrency network and raise the bitcoin blocksize limit. Bitcoin NG was designed to solve potential problems that may arise with the development of the blockchain technology. The project is concentrated on the investigation and development of the technology behind the digital currency.

“We want lower latency, we want higher throughput, more bandwidth and more transactions per second, and we want security. We can try to tune the parameters,” the researchers said.

“We could have shorter block length, and transactions would come faster on the chain and we have better throughput but we get forks and orphans when that happens. We have unfairness, smaller miners get less revenue and leads to centralization and I will talk about that. We have a longer time to convergence because of these orphans and forks.”

One of the key ideas proposed by developers is a consensus delay, or how long it takes for miners to achieve agreement on the blockchain state.

“The 80% consensus delay is if at least 80% of the time 80% of the nodes agreed on what happened until 10 minutes ago. We reduce the interval between blocks, and the bandwidth remains the same but blocks come in faster. You can see in the x scale the block frequency, and 0.1 means one block every 10 seconds,” the researchers explain the idea.

According to the Bitcoin-NG team, the blockchain should consist of two types of blocks. While the one set of blocks should be included to handle transaction information, the other set should be added to provide continuity of the blockchain.

The growth of the block frequency leads to the consensus delay improvement. “As we increase the block size, and this is the second type of experiment, we have one block every 10 seconds and we increase the block sizes generated every 10 seconds. There is increased block size, and the consensus delay is way up and it grows quickly. This is bad. So we’re trying to improve bandwidth and this is what happens to consensus delay.”

Another measurement used by the team is time to prune, or the time needed to realize you’re on a right branch and how long it takes to understand the chain is somewhere else. As block size grows, subjective time to prune increases.

Fairness is the other problem mentioned by the developers. Their goal is to let smaller miners get what they need as larger miners often get more. However, with the growth of block frequency, fairness goes down. Moreover, as we increase the block size we provoke a decline of latency and increase the time to win.

But Bitcoin-NG is a completely different protocol that solves each of the above mentioned problems. The project still undergoes testing and after meeting all the requirements the developers expect to launch it to the public.

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Polina Chernykh

Polina is an undergraduate student at Belarusian State Economic University (BSEU) where she is studying at the faculty of International Business Communication for a degree specializing in Intercultural Communication. In her spare time she enjoys drawing, music and travelling.

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