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What are Blockchain Nodes and Why Are They Crucial for Crypto? Explained by GetBlock



June 22, 2022

13 min read

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On the 18th of June, GetBlock participated in the BlockJam 2022 with a lecture about blockchain nodes and their role in the Web 3 sphere. So here's a full written recap of Maria's (our Business Development Manager) speech.

My name is Maria Key and I’m a Business Development Manager at GetBlock, a leading blockchain nodes provider. We offer ready-made nodes for decentralized applications of all types. Through our APIs, any application can utilize the computational power of Bitcoin, Ethereum, BNB Chain, Polygon, Solana, and so on.

In this speech, I’m going to briefly cover the concept of blockchain nodes provider and explain why a Web3 segment badly needs out-of-the box node APIs. Also, I will demonstrate the basics of our services stack and touch some points of our roadmap.

What is a blockchain node and why does the Web3 sphere need it?

To start with, let’s discuss what the blockchain is in terms of decentralized applications building. Blockchain or distributed ledger is a permissionless decentralized network that contains replicated, shared, and synchronized digital data geographically spread across multiple computers.

Unlike centralized databases, blockchains can’t be controlled by centralized entities (administrators). This, in turn, means that no participant can corrupt the process of data storage, transfer, exchange within the blockchain. Technically, the information is stored in the form of the chain of blocks; the encrypted and immutable consequence of data pieces. The blocks contain the information about transactions that take place between the accounts of this or that blockchain. Nobody can replace the next block with the previous one or voluntarily add a new block: it would be rejected by its peers within the network.

When network participants ‘add’ new blocks to the chain, they agree about the fact that the information about the transactions occurred during this or that block is valid. Simply put, every new block in the blockchain is the agreement signed by all computers active within the blockchain: ‘Hereby we agree that account A has transferred X tokens to account B so that both accounts have their balance changed’.

Once blockchain nodes participants add a new block to the network, it is permanently connected to the previous one. Every next block contains the information about the previous one (so called header); it guarantees the security and censorship-resistance of the entire system. The integrity of blockchain systems are protected by the sophisticated toolkit of hashes, i.e. secrets used to encrypt the data about blocks and transactions.

What does this mean for applications developers? Blockchains can be used as the elements of reliable, censorship-resistant, attack-resistant, and transparent decentralized back-end for apps. Imagine Google Cloud or AWS without centralization, but with battle-tested security and encryption: for instance, Bitcoin works like clockwork for over 12 years without a second of downtime.

Different blockchains work in accordance with different rules; we called them ‘types of consensus’. Bitcoin, a first-ever blockchain works on Proof-of-Work consensus or PoW, so does Ethereum. This means that millions of computers in their networks are trying to solve puzzles in order to ‘mine’ a correct hash for the next block. Net number of hashes the computers (miners) send to the network is called hashrate. Imagine, right here, Bitcoin network participants worldwide are sending 200 quintillions of hashes every second to protect the integrity of its network.

In Proof-of-Stake, validators - network participants responsible for proper confirmation of transactions and adding new blocks - are keeping network integrity by their stakes, not by computational power contributed. Say, in an upcoming Ethereum 2.0, validators will be required to stake (lock for a predetermined period of time) 32 Ethers; should one of them somehow fail in the validating process, he/she will be penalized and lose share of the stake. Largest Proof-of-Stake (PoS) network Cardano (ADA) works similarly.

Despite the different blockchains having different consensus designs, each of them in its daily operations relies on the distributed infrastructure of nodes. We can better imagine a node as a server (actually, a computer) operated by a specific software. Unlike centralized databases, nodes are equal to each other and contribute equally to the process of block validation and therefore, to the confirmation of blockchain transactions.

That said, blockchain nodes are geographically distributed elements of computational (hardware and software) infrastructure required for blockchains to operate. Each blockchain adheres to its own node architecture design.

Public nodes and self-hosted nodes: Which option is a smart bet for 2022?

To ensure balanced, attack-resistant and decentralized consensus - by ‘decentralized’ in this particular case we mean ‘protected from whales domination and 51% attacks’ - every blockchain relies on its own ecosystem of nodes. Every ecosystem boasts different ‘levels’ of nodes with different rights. This feature is also designed to ensure maximum resource-efficiency for every participant of node consensus.

As we have already mentioned, every blockchain has its own design of node infrastructure. However, typically, blockchains use ‘regular nodes’ and masternodes that leverage more powerful computers and bear greater responsibility. Let’s talk about the most popular nodes hierarchy design with light nodes, full nodes and archive nodes.

Light nodes or read-only nodes are the smallest and most flexible elements of every blockchain infrastructure. Their rights are limited: they can just check the state of the blockchain, i.e. light nodes can ‘see’ the balances of accounts, the content of blocks, the status of validators and so on. In their operations they need to get synchronized with full nodes. Light nodes work with minimum software/hardware requirements as they store small pieces of information. For the majority of blockchains, light nodes can be set up in less than one hour even on a low-key computer.

Full nodes or masternodes not only store the full information about the blockchain, but also can adjust and save it. Every piece of information stored in the blockchain is added by full nodes or miner nodes (in Proof-of-Work blockchains). While preserving the blockchain state, the full nodes are synchronized with each other. They store a large amount of information; for instance, Ethereum full node size in Geth implementation is over 750 GB. Technically, full nodes store the copies of all transactions that took place in this or that blockchain.

Also, archive nodes store the entire history of the blockchain operations since its first-ever mainnet block. Say, with the Ethereum archive node, we can track the history of all blocks, balances, accounts, miners and hashes since July, 2015. Primarily, we need such nodes for R&D and analytical purposes.

Simply put, the majority of blockchains consist of light, full and archive nodes that have different rights and obligations in transaction verification. It takes high-end hardware, sophisticated software and engineering skills to run full and archive blockchain nodes.

Since the inception of blockchain technology, crypto enthusiasts have been running various nodes on their own. For doing so, they received bonuses in native cryptocurrency of this or that blockchain. Also, to deploy a decentralized application - non-custodial exchange, decentralized lending protocol, on-chain game, or NFT marketplace - developers need the access to the blockchain.

In the first phases of the DeFi revolution, it was reasonable to run a self-hosted node. In order to have your own node operating, you need to lend a server or data center, customize software, periodically update it, and so on. Also, some server infrastructure providers don’t allow the installation of node software due to regulatory and technical restrictions.

That said, running a self-hosted blockchain node might be an interesting and profitable hobby but it takes too many resources and skills nowadays. It still makes sense for the validators who are only interested in getting rewards for their contribution to distributed computational infrastructure. For blockchain developers of 2022, running self-hosted nodes is unnecessary. Now they can book an API endpoint created and maintained by a blockchain nodes provider.

As such, developers don’t need to rely on self-hosted nodes any longer: blockchain nodes providers can do all the heavy lifting and allow blockchain teams to better focus on development and marketing tasks.

GetBlock’s stack of nodes: 40+ blockchains, shared and dedicated nodes, free, paid and unlimited tariffs

Dear guests, the right moment has come to introduce GetBlock, a veteran blockchain nodes provider that provides decentralized applications with reliable and low-cost API endpoints. With our APIs, decentralized applications of all types including red-hot GameFi, Play-to-Earn and NFT protocols, can be released in a Plug-and-Play manner.

Launched in early 2019 by a heavy-hitting team of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, GetBlock has a geographically distributed network of servers that allows us to run various nodes on them. That being said, every client of GetBlock can access this infrastructure through an API key.

Why does this make sense? First, it accelerates the speed of app deployment. With GetBlock, cryptocurrency entrepreneurs can skip the process of node customization; instead, we offer a ready-made decentralized backend for every dApp. GetBlock’s nodes stack is a scalable one: crypto teams can experiment with various blockchains, different tariff plans, and so on.

Then, working with GetBlock advances the reliability and scalability of every wallet, NFT marketplace or trading bot. Our infrastructure is battle-tested, so it’s much safer to work with us instead of using self-hosted nodes. While we offer customized service level agreement for every client, our nodes work with 99% uptime per average.

GetBlock’s ecosystem of servers includes high-end data servers in Asia, Europe and the United States. That said, GetBlock’s nodes won’t be affected by anti-crypto attacks in various regions of the world.

GetBlock’s toolkit of blockchains is among the most impressive in the segment. Unlike its major competitors, GetBlock offers APIs of both programmatic blockchains (they support smart contracts) and non-programmatic ones. We offer access to veteran blockchains such as Bitcoin, Litecoin and XRP Ledger and novel ecosystems Moonbeam, Moonriver, TON; Layer-one giants Ethereum, Solana, Cardano, Fantom, and cutting-edge second-layer solutions Optimism and Arbitrum.

In a word, GetBlock is a blockchain node provider that offers API endpoints to 40+ blockchains including all major smart contracts platforms. Working with GetBlock will save the time and resources of every dApp team and contribute to its decentralization and attack-resistance.

GetBlock is offering a flexible set of opportunities for decentralized applications of all types and sizes. That’s why our services stack includes various alternatives to meet the requirements of clients with different budgets.

Shared blockchain nodes and dedicated blockchain nodes are two main categories of services we’re proudly offering to our clients. Our shared nodes clients can use node servers together with their peers. The number of requests to shared nodes is therefore limited. Typically, we recommend shared nodes as an entry-level option for early-stage dApps with low traffic. Shared nodes can be useful for testing and R&D purposes. Also, for experimental purposes, we offer APIs for testnets of Bitcoin, Ethereum (Kovan), Polkadot, Polygon, and so on.

For our new shared nodes clients, we offer a free tariff plan: up to 40,000 requests to the blockchain can be authorized free of charge. This package is enough to demonstrate the opportunities GetBlock unlock for Web3 developers. Paid tariff plans start at $6 per 500,000 requests while unlimited tariff plans start from $500 per month.

Dedicated nodes’ APIs are our premium-level product: their clients can leverage the technical capacity of a specific server for their purpose. The pricing and details of this offer can be discussed with our sales representatives. Every user of our dedicated node gets unlimited requests, premium 24/7 support, easy-to-use analytical dashboard, access to the blockchain through various API interfaces (JSON-RPC, WS, GraphQL), and the opportunity to deploy third-party software on our infrastructure. Our dedicated nodes work with 16-thread CPUs, 64 GB DDR4 RAM and high-end NVMe SSDs.

For some of our most popular nodes (Ethereum, Solana, Polygon), we introduced a ‘2+1’ promo campaign. For every two months of contract, teams get one month of free unlimited requests.

Last but not least, we can roll-out an archive node for every analytics and trading platform. With our customized archive nodes, clients can reach the full history of blockchains operations to track performance of crucial trading indicators, on-chain metrics, and so on. This information can provide dApps teams with valuable insights.

So, with GetBlock, you can deploy your dApp to any of 40+ blockchains; mainnets and testnets, shared and dedicated nodes, and various API interfaces are available at low prices.

GetBlock for blockchain developers: explorers, consulting, node clusters

Despite customized APIs for blockchain nodes represent the top category of our services. GetBlock allows the Web3 family to leverage its Blockchain-as-a-Service expertise in a plethora of ways.

First, GetBlock can create a user-friendly explorer for every decentralized network. Blockchain explorers work not unlike browsers for blockchains: they demonstrate the information about all the events in this or that blockchain in a human-readable form. Say, with blockchain explorer everyone can create an invoice to verify crypto translation, check his/her counterparty and track crucial indicators of blockchain performance. As such, having customized and fast blockchain explorer significantly increases credibility and transparency of every decentralized network.

In Q2, 2022, GetBlock created a ready-made explorer for NEAR Protocol, one of the most sophisticated blockchains ever. The GetBlock team received a NEAR Foundation grant and developed NEAR explorer from scratch. This was a huge milestone for our team as it strengthened our position as leading Blockchain-as-a-Service vendor in Web3.

Then, from 2022, GetBlock offers node cluster building services for its most sophisticated clients. Node Cluster is an ecosystem of nodes designed to handle heavy traffic when a single node is overloaded. With our node clusters, decentralized applications can increase their TPS metric and eclipse all competitors by performance and resource-efficiency. GetBlock can build both single-blockchain and multi-blockchain node clusters. All node clusters are equipped with custom-made load balancing systems and alert mechanisms. As per the estimations of our team, working with GetBlock’s node clusters can save 27% of resources.

Finally, GetBlock is backing Web3 entrepreneurs with consulting support regarding technical progress, development, marketing and other issues. In GetBlock, we have dozens of crypto veterans on board, so we're happy to fuel new teams with our expertise. First of all, we can consult newcomers on how to manage blockchain nodes for better performance and resource optimization.

To sum up, GetBlock is a top-tier Blockchain-as-a-Service platform that connects decentralized applications to the endpoints of 40+ blockchains. Every team regardless of its budget, mission, vision and product design can deploy the next Web3 unicorn to our nodes.

Thank you for your attention! Stay tuned with GetBlock!



June 22, 2022

13 min read