Since the cloud giant Xunlei unveiled its high-performance mainnet ThunderChain, there have been lots of questions and discussions around its infrastructure design and framework. For example, why isThunderChain designed with a technical infrastructure that prioritizes TPS? Why ThunderChain uses PBFT consensus mechanism instead of the more popular POW and POS? Zhang Huiyong, R&D Director of ThunderChain Open Platform, recently explained the design philosophy behindThunderChain to blockchain developers in Beijing at the first stop of ThunderChain Salon.
Why TPS is a priority?
At the core of blockchain mainnets are three performance elements, namely, transactions per second (TPS), block generation and verification (time to reach consensus) and probability of forks. Different blockchain platforms may have different priority on these three elements.
To balance among these three elements, ThunderChain is designed to prioritize performance, in addition to security and decentralization.Performance is so prioritized because Xunlei has always been considering blockchain as an infrastructural servicesof the internet to be appliedin different scenarios.These varied scenarios, especially the e-commerce and other large-scale scenarios require millions of TPS, and not to mention the ever increasing demand of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Therefore, high TPS will be one of the core prerequisites for large-scale applications. ThunderChain, which is designedto drive vast number of such applications in the real economy, adopts a homogeneous multichain structure to realize millions of TPS.
Why is PBFT selected for consensus?
ThunderChain uses PBFT as its consensus mechanism, which is well recognized in the industry in terms of tolerance. For example, the People’s Bank of China has deployed one of its optimized versions on a blockchain platform for digital check processing.
PBFT tackles forks and provides higher efficiency, much higher block generation rate, and more perfect realization in all aspects than its conventional counterparts such as POW and POS.
This is why ThunderChain adopts PBFT to, again, meet demands of real-life applications, which will run in real-life business scenarios that will not accept rollback actions. After all, the rollback of blocks corresponds to the cancellation and annulment of transactions, leading to degraded user experience in real world.
The only problem with PBFT is that it cannot ensure security unless malicious and ineffective nodes account for less than 1/3 of all nodes, or, it requires F<=(n-1)/3, where F is the number of malicious nodes and n is the number of all nodes. This means that the mechanism needs many nodes; otherwise, it would be prone to being manipulated. This problem is addressed by ThunderChain that provides more than 1.5 million shared nodes to ensure overall availability of the system.
Why are external layers added?
As a blockchain infrastructure, ThunderChain is expected to make it easier for the companies to use the new technology. To promote the development and deployment of blockchain, ThunderChain adds many other layers to its infrastructure to lower the barrier for companies to adopt blockchain technology. Most of these applications are on the service layer, such as a database of contract standards and templates, a transaction order system, and ThunderChain File System (TCFS).
Despite of their diversified functions, these systems follow the same design concept in terms of business processes, allowing companies to build a blockchain application that has been adapted for their business. In other words, companies may use their existing proven processes without modifying them to integrate into blockchain platform.
With an expanding service layer, ThunderChain can be adopted by companies across a number of sectors in a more targeted manner.
Take the strategic partnership between ThunderChain and Laidian Technology as an example, the latter is one of the largest sharing power-bank provider in China. Leveraging blockchain as a distributed ledger and incentive tool, ThunderChain helps record user behavior data of browsing the advertisement (with the acknowledgement and authorization from users) and the advertiser can see the real delivery effect. Users will also get rewards by clicking and browsing the ads which can be exchanged for Laidian’s charging services. In addition, Xunlei also cooperates with the One Foundation, HGBC and other institutions to solve the pain points in the fields of social welfare, medical health, and product traceability by using blockchain technology, bringing practical experience improvement to users.