Tuesday, 25 September 2018 10:37

Next-gen blockchain boosts speed, energy efficiency on global scale, says Data61

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Data61 says its next-generation blockchain system Red Belly Blockchain has shown increased speed and energy efficiencies on a global network, with deployment on 1000 virtual machines across 14 of Amazon Web Services' global regions.

Data61, the technology arm of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, developed the Red Belly Bloackchain with the Concurrent Systems Research Group at the University of Sydney. It undertook its first large-scale experiment on AWS global cloud infrastructure.

According to Data61, Red Belly Blockchain is solving the issues that have plagued previous generations of blockchain systems including environmental impact from significant energy use, double spending where an individual spends their money twice by initiating more than one transaction, and throughput, which refers to how many units of information can be processed in a short amount of time.

The experiment deployed Red Belly Blockchain in regions including North America, South America, Asia Pacific (Sydney), and Europe.

A benchmark was set by sending 30,000 transactions per second from different geographic regions, demonstrating an average transaction latency (or delay) of three seconds with 1000 replicas (a machine that maintains a copy of the current state of the blockchain and the balance of all accounts.)

Data61 says this is comparable to the latency obtained during a test in 2017 with only 260 replicas located in a single region – and in comparison, mainstream blockchain technologies need minutes, with other technologies typically processing less than 20 transactions per second.  

According to Data61, the experiment highlights Red Belly Blockchain’s scalability, while retaining fast transaction speeds and high security, making it ideal for faster processing of financial transactions and microgrids that use peer-to-peer trading to transform the energy sector.

“Real-world applications of blockchain have been struggling to get off the ground due to issues with energy consumption and complexities induced by the proof of work,” Dr Vincent Gramoli, senior researcher at CSIRO’s Data61 and head of Concurrent Systems Research Group at the University of Sydney, said.

“The deployment of Red Belly Blockchain on AWS shows the unique scalability and strength of the next generation ledger technology in a global context.”

Data61 says mainstream blockchain technologies like Bitcoin require proof of work — a protocol to satisfy certain requirements and verify a transaction — and need to solve crypto puzzles, a highly computational task that slows down the creation of blocks and requires massive amounts of energy.

And, according to Data61, Red Belly Blockchain differs from these blockchains as it is underpinned by a unique algorithm and offers performance that scales without an equivalent increase in electricity consumption.

Two earlier experiments were conducted on AWS from July 2017 to May 2018. While one showed a throughput of 660,000 transactions per second across 300 machines in a single Availability Zone, Data61 says this latest deployment on AWS’ network spun up a global network designed to test Red Belly Blockchain’s performance on a large scale.

“AWS Cloud provides innovative organisations of all kinds with a global network of compute power, allowing organisations like Red Belly Blockchain to quickly conduct large-scale experiments that break new ground,” Simon Elisha, head of Solutions Architecture, Amazon Web Services Public Sector, Australia and New Zealand, said.

“This is the latest example of how builders and creators all over Australia are leveraging AWS to quickly and cost-effectively move a project from concept phase right through to realising commercial potential, locally and on a global scale.”

Red Belly Blockchain is a graduate from ON Prime, CSIRO’s pre-accelerator program, which aided in providing early business model development for the start-up.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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