What Are Nodes?

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The definition of a node can vary greatly depending on the context in which it is used. When it comes to computer or telecommunications networks, nodes can offer different goals, acting both as a point of redistribution and as a final point of communication. Typically, a node consists of a physical network device, but in some cases, virtual nodes are used.

In a nutshell, a network node is a point at which a message can be created, received or transmitted. Here we will discuss the different types of bitcoin nodes: complete nodes, supernodes, miner nodes, and SPV clients.

Bitcoin nodes

Immersing in the context of blockchains, which are designed as distributed systems, the network of computer nodes allows the use of bitcoin as a decentralized peer-to-peer digital currency (P2P). As such, it is resistant to censorship and does not require an intermediary to switch from one user to another (regardless of how far they are from the world).

As a result, blockchain nodes are responsible for functioning as a communication point, which can perform various functions. Any computer or device that connects to the Bitcoin interface can be thought of as a node in the sense that they somehow communicate with each other.

These nodes can also transmit information about transactions and blocks in a distributed computer network using Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer protocol. However, each computer node is defined according to its specific functions, so there are different types of bitcoin nodes.

Complete nodes

The complete nodes are those that really support and provide security for Bitcoins, and are indispensable for the network. These nodes can also be defined as complete revision nodes, as they are involved in the transaction verification process and block the agreed system rules. Even complete nodes can transfer new transactions and blocks to the blockchain.

Usually, the complete node loads a bitcoin blockchain copy with each block and transaction, but this is not a requirement to consider a complete node (an abbreviated copy of the blockchain can be used instead).

It is possible to create a complete Bitcoin node using various software implementations, but the Bitcoin kernel is the most used and popular. These are the minimum requirements for running a complete Bitcoin Core site:

  • Desktop or laptop with the latest version of Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.
  • 200 GB of free disk space.
  • 2 GB of memory (RAM).
  • High-speed Internet connection with a download speed of at least 50 kb / s.
  • Connection not measured or connection with high load limits. The complete nodes on the network can reach or exceed a load of 200 GB / month and a load of 20 GB / month.
  • You will also need to load ~ 200 GB when starting the full site for the first time.
  • Your complete site should work at least 6 hours a day. Even better if you do it all the time (24/7)

Many volunteer organizations and users use high-level Bitcoin nodes as a means to help the Bitcoin ecosystem. Starting from 2018, approximately 9,700 public nodes operate in the Bitcoin network. Note that this number includes only open nodes that refer to bitcoin listening nodes that are visible and accessible (in other words, as listening nodes).

In addition to the public nodes, there are many other hidden nodes that are not visible (you don’t listen to the nodes). These nodes usually work behind a firewall, through hidden protocols like Tor, or simply because they have been configured to not listen to connections.

Listening nodes (supernodes)

In essence, a listening node or a superstar is a complete node that is publicly visible. Communicate and provide information to any other node that decides to establish a connection with it. Consequently, the super-hard is basically a redistribution point, which can act both as a data source and as a communication bridge.

A reliable super-node usually works around the clock and has established several connections, transferring blockchain history and transaction data to different nodes around the world. For this reason, it is likely that the superuser requires more processing power and a better Internet connection than a complete site, which is hidden.

Miners nodes

To extract bitcoins in the current competitive scenario, you need to invest in specialized equipment and data mining programs. These mining programs (software) are not directly related to Bitcoin Core and work in parallel to try to extract bitcoin blocks. Miner can work alone (miner solo) or in a group (miner pool).

While the completed nodes of individual miners use their own copy of the blockchain, the miners of the pool work together, each of which contributes to its computational resources (hashpower). In the data mining pool, only the pool administrator must run a complete node, which can be called a complete pool miner node.

Light clients or SPV

Light clients, also known as simplified payment verification (SPV) clients, use the Bitcoin network but do not function as a complete node. Thus, SPV clients do not contribute to network security, since they do not store a copy of the blockchain and do not participate in the process of checking and confirming transactions.

In short, SPV is a method by which the user can check whether some transactions were included in a block or not, without having to load the entire data block. Consequently, SPV clients are based on information provided by other full nodes (supernodes). Light clients work as a communication endpoint and are used by many cryptocurrency portfolios.

Client vs. Mining Nodes

It is important to note that the execution of a complete node is different from a full data mining node. Although miners have to invest in expensive data mining equipment and software, anyone can run a full inspection site.

Before attempting to extract a block, the miner must collect the pending transactions, previously accepted as valid full nodes. Then the miner creates a candidate block (with a group of transactions) and tries to extract this block.

If the miner manages to find the right solution for the candidate block, he sends it to the network so that other full nodes can verify the correctness of the block. Therefore, consent rules are determined and guaranteed by a distributed network of check nodes, not by miners.

Final thoughts

Bitcoin nodes communicate with each other via the Bitcoin P2P network protocol and thus guarantee the integrity of the system. A node that behaves badly or tries to spread incorrect information is quickly recognized by honest nodes and disconnected from the network.

Despite the fact that launching a fully validating site does not provide financial rewards, it is highly recommended because it provides trust, security, and privacy to users. Full nodes enforce the rules. They protect the blockchain from attacks and fraud (for example, double costs). In addition, a complete site should not trust others and allows the user to fully control their money.

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