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What is RPC Node and How Does it Work? 

Deen Newman

Deen Newman

March 7, 2024

9 分鐘閱讀

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In our new article, let’s check out the basics of the RPC node concept, its usage, and setup principles. As the bull run is gaining traction, the right moment has come to find out what is an RPC node in crypto, and how to use it for dApps and wallets.

What is an RPC node?

In the context of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, an RPC (brief for Remote Procedure Call) node is a server that provides a connection point to a blockchain network.

Via this gateway, developers and applications might query, interact with, and submit transactions to the blockchain. It acts as an intermediary that executes commands (such as retrieving account balances, sending transactions, or calling smart contract functions) on behalf of clients, using the RPC protocol to communicate.

RPC nodes are crucial for the functioning of decentralized applications (dApps) and other blockchain-based services, enabling them to access the blockchain's data and perform operations without running a full node themselves.

What is the purpose of an RPC node?

In modern blockchains, RPC serves as a bridge between applications and the decentralized network, facilitating direct interaction with the blockchain's data and functions. It allows developers and users to execute blockchain operations, such as querying transaction histories, managing accounts, and executing smart contract functions, without needing to run a full network node. By providing a way to perform these actions through simple API calls, RPC nodes play a critical role in the ecosystem, enabling the development of decentralized applications (dApps) and services that can interact seamlessly with the blockchain, thus enhancing accessibility, functionality, and user experience within the decentralized space.

How does an RPC node work?

While working with decentralized applications or cryptocurrency wallets, RPC node operations includes three phases:

  1. Communication interface. An RPC node works by exposing a set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that define how external applications can request data or perform operations on the blockchain. Clients can make calls to these APIs over the internet, requesting specific actions like retrieving blockchain data, submitting transactions, or interacting with smart contracts.

  2. Processing requests. When an RPC node receives a request, it interprets the command and interacts with the blockchain on the client's behalf.

  3. Returning results. After processing the request, the RPC node returns the results back to the client. The response is formatted according to the RPC protocol, enabling the client application to understand and use the data within its own context, thus completing the cycle of interaction with the blockchain network.

As a result, the RPC node is a core element of two-way communication between the blockchain and its “user” (dApp, wallet, tracker).

Why are RPC nodes used?

RPC nodes should be referred to as cost-effective, fast, and easy-to-use alternatives for public node infrastructure or self-hosted nodes.

  • Private RPC endpoints are dedicated nodes set up by organizations or individuals for their exclusive use, offering greater control, privacy, and reliability in managing blockchain interactions. These endpoints are ideal for businesses and applications requiring high throughput and secure, consistent access to the blockchain.

  • Public RPC endpoints, on the other hand, are available for use by the general public, provided by blockchain projects or community members. They are accessible to anyone and are often free, but they may have limitations in terms of rate limits and reliability, affecting performance under high demand.

  • Self-hosted nodes allow users to run their own RPC server, giving them full control over their blockchain interactions. This setup is beneficial for those needing custom configurations, enhanced security, and the ability to handle large volumes of requests without depending on external providers.

By using RPC nodes, developers and users can interact with blockchain networks efficiently, choosing between private, public, and self-hosted options based on their specific requirements for control, privacy, and scalability.

Let’s sum up the specifications of these three types of blockchain nodes to better understand the differences between RPC node services.

Type of node Operated by Pros Cons Target audience
Private RPC node RPC node provider Fastest and most convenient solution Provider charges money for its services Commercial dApps
Public RPC node Blockchain itself (foundation) Free-to-use solution Big overload, too slow On-chain wallets
Self-hosted node Node users Most decentralized solution Running self-hosted node is a challenging task Research and education purposes

As such, private RPC nodes remain the best solution for commercial decentralized applications of various types.

How to set up an RPC node?

Setting up an RPC node on a virtual server involves several technical steps, but here's a simplified overview in three main steps:

  1. Set up your virtual or bare metal server. Choose a cloud service provider (like AWS, Google Cloud, or DigitalOcean) and set up a virtual server. The specifications (CPU, RAM, storage) should meet the minimum requirements for the blockchain you intend to support. It's important to select a server with enough resources to handle the blockchain's full ledger and high network demands.

  2. Install and customize node client. Connect to your virtual server via SSH (Secure Shell). Download and install the blockchain node software from the official repository of the blockchain you're interested in. This step might involve configuring the software to function as an RPC node, setting parameters such as the port for RPC calls, enabling specific APIs, and configuring access control to secure the node.

  3. Sync your node with its peers and start testing. Start the node and allow it to sync with the blockchain network, which can take some time depending on the blockchain's size and the server's internet speed. Once synchronized, you can test the RPC functionality by making API calls from your local machine to the node's RPC endpoint. This might involve using tools like curl or Postman to send requests to your node's IP address and the configured RPC port, ensuring it responds correctly.

Throughout this process, pay close attention to security practices, such as setting up firewalls, using secure passwords, and regularly updating the node software to protect against vulnerabilities.

How to connect to an existing RPC node?

Connecting to ready-made RPC nodes remains the fastest and most cost-efficient way to start working with blockchain in an effortless manner. Let’s check out the procedure of connection to blockchain nodes using GetBlock, one of the most technically advanced RPC node providers.

GetBlock connects dApps to 50+ blockchains including Ethereum (ETH), BNB Smart Chain (BSC), Polygon (MATIC), Arbitrum (ARB), Optimism (OP) and so on.

  1. Set up an account for an RPC node provider. With GetBlock, you can sign up with either an email address or MetaMask. In a few clicks, your account is ready for use.

Image by GetBlock

  1. Choose the network you would like to connect to. Say, you’re interested in working with BNB Smart Chain (BSC) mainnet via JSON RPC interface. As such, set the following parameters in the RPC node provider dashboard.
Getblock_Choosing_RPC_Endpoints

Image by GetBlock

  1. Get the RPC endpoint address and start working with it in your dApp or wallet. By clicking “Get”, you obtain an address of your personal endpoint to BNB Smart Chain mainnet that looks as follows:

https://go.getblock.io/c5ab51f8716548f5b323bafc341d4d2c

This address can be integrated into a decentralized application or wallet.

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Features and capabilities of RPC nodes

Features of RPC crypto nodes can be summarized in three points for clarity:

  1. Transaction management. RPC nodes facilitate the creation, signing, and broadcasting of transactions to the blockchain network. They enable users and applications to send cryptocurrency, interact with smart contracts, and perform other transaction-related operations seamlessly.

  2. Data querying. They offer the capability to query blockchain data, including retrieving account balances, transaction histories, smart contract states, and block information. This feature is crucial for applications needing to display current blockchain states or verify transactions.

  3. Smart contract interaction. RPC nodes allow for the deployment of smart contracts as well as the execution of smart contract functions. This enables developers to create and manage decentralized applications (dApps) directly through RPC calls, interacting with the blockchain in a programmable manner.

As such, RPC blockchain nodes are responsible for transferring data between blockchains, cryptocurrency applications and wallets via standardized procedures.

Security considerations for RPC nodes

While working with private or self-hosted blockchain RPC nodes, cryptocurrency enthusiasts should follow common security practices.

  • Implement stringent access control measures. Set up robust access controls to restrict who can interact with your RPC node. Use authentication mechanisms and IP whitelisting to limit access to trusted users and systems only. Consider deploying API keys or basic auth for added security layers, ensuring that only authorized calls are processed by the node.

  • Enable modern encryption methodology. Use HTTPS (SSL/TLS) encryption for RPC communications to protect data in transit. This prevents man-in-the-middle attacks and ensures that sensitive information, such as private keys and transaction details, cannot be intercepted by unauthorized parties.

  • Don’t forget about activity monitoring. Regularly monitor your RPC node for unusual or unauthorized access patterns. Implement rate limiting to prevent abuse and potential denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Rate limiting can help mitigate the risk of your node being overwhelmed by too many requests, ensuring its availability and reliability.

Simply put, it’s necessary to control the usage of RPC endpoints to prevent them from being accessed by abusers and malefactors.

FAQ

Now, we’re ready to answer the most common questions regarding RPC crypto meaning and usage in Web3 development.

Can multiple applications connect to the same RPC node?

Yes, this only depends on the capability of this or that server.

Are RPC nodes compatible with different programming languages?

Yes, you can build dApps on this or that node using various programming languages; you just need to choose the proper API interface: gRPC, GraphQL, REST API, etc.

How can I ensure the performance and scalability of my RPC node?

For commercial dApps, the best way to ensure the speed and scaling of RPC nodes is working with private RPC node providers.

Can an RPC node be used for real-time communication?

Yes, if it is integrated with a decentralized browser or messenger.

Deen Newman

Deen Newman

March 7, 2024

9 分鐘閱讀

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