August 4, 2021

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Bottlenecks in Blockchain Consensus Protocols. (arXiv:2103.04234v3 [cs.DC] UPDATED)

Most of the Blockchain permissioned systems employ Byzantine fault-tolerance
(BFT) consensus protocols to ensure that honest validators agree on the order
for appending entries to their ledgers. In this paper, we study the performance
and the scalability of prominent consensus protocols, namely PBFT, Tendermint,
HotStuff, and Streamlet, both analytically via load formulas and practically
via implementation and evaluation. Under identical conditions, we identify the
bottlenecks of these consensus protocols and show that these protocols do not
scale well as the number of validators increases. Our investigation points to
the communication complexity as the culprit. Even when there is enough network
bandwidth, the CPU cost of serialization and deserialization of the messages
limits the throughput and increases the latency of the protocols. To alleviate
the bottlenecks, the most useful techniques include reducing the communication
complexity, rotating the hotspot of communications, and pipelining across
consensus instances.