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What is Blockchain Performance?

By ESC Editorial Team, over 5 years ago Business
What is Blockchain Performance?

When asked about the performance of blockchain, most people use specific numbers such as 10,000 pens per second or 100,000 pens per second to express how it is performing. However, it is meaningless to use numbers to express the blockchain’s performance, which has an integral structure.

Let’s learn more about the blockchain’s performance, the status, development issues, and optimisation solutions through the speech of Jianxin Yang [1], CTO of China Jingtum Tech, at the sixth Blockchain Technology Developer Salon jointly held by CSDN Blockchain Headquarters, PDJ Education, and Geek Founders.

[1] Jianxin Yang: Head of the Jingtum blockchain underlying platform in China. He led the development of China’s first commercial public blockchain and compiled APIs, SDKs and other related standard interfaces. And he is the pioneer of the first domestic intelligent contract in China.

1. Introduction of the performance definition and the performing status of the blockchain

2. Introduction of the current bottleneck and optimisation scheme of blockchain performance

Blockchain’s Performance Definition


The blockchain’s performance is measured by two indicators. One is reaction time. Because blockchain is a system that integrates transaction and liquidation, the reaction time actually consists of two parts: one is the time required for the transaction and the other is the time required for the liquidation. Another indicator is throughput. Throughput refers to the number of transactions completed within a unit of time.

The blockchains have point-to-point transactions and each specific transaction is different. When asked about the performance of each blockchain, most people would say 10,000 or 100,000 pens per second and use specific numbers to express it. In fact, this is meaningless because the blockchain’s performance in a structure includes: on-chain performance and off-chain performance, decentralised performance and centralised performance, global performance and local performance.  Therefore, we should not only consider specific numbers, but also need to understand the performance of the blockchains from the overall structure.

Two Applications of Blockchain

Gartner (an information technology research and analytics company) believes that blockchain can not meet our current business requirements. For example, a few hundred thousand transactions are made every second during the double 11, but the current blockchain has only a few or a maximum of 20 transactions per second, which is far from meeting the current requirements.

From the perspective of the blockchain, you will find that the blockchain can do more than what Gartner believes. For example, if we use blockchain to pay, the calculation is very fast. It will take longer if done in the traditional way. If we want to create advanced applications on the blockchain, we should think it from the perspective of the blockchain.

Currently, the major application for blockchain is Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) such as Ethernet Cats and Forked Coins, which has become a popular way for startups to raise funds. In addition to ICO, another less known method of raising money for blockchain project is Initial Exchange Offering (IEO). To learn about its advantages and how to participate, you could read What Is An Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) originally published at MintDice. 

The Conditions of Blockchain’s Performance 

First, the distributed and asynchronous environment. 

Since humanity lives in different places, there are different time zones. So, for example the (single) time zone in China differs from the (six) time zones in the US. Therefore, the blockchain cannot reach a consensus according to time. 

Second, the consensus mechanism

Because the honesty of each node is different, some nodes may be honest and some may be dishonest. The blockchains have to find out how to construct a common consensus result in these nodes through a consensus mechanism.


Third, the transaction complexity. 

When you are doing a transfer transaction at Ethereum, you may think that the service charge was high and might require 210,000 GAS (GAS is a unit to measure the cost, and it is the number of instructions used to execute each transaction in the Ethereum virtual machine.). However, if you make a contract transaction, you will find that the fee is even higher and you may need more than 300,000 or 600,000 GAS. Why? Because there are many steps in the implementation of the contract and each step must be charged. Depending on the complexity of the transaction function, the number of contract steps varies for each transaction. Therefore, it is also worth considering how the complexity of transaction functions as well as the transaction costs can be reduced.

Fourth, the chain complexity. 

The complexities of the chains are different. The chain is like an account book where everyone is presenting and recording their transactions. Some transactions between the chains need only simple records. Other transaction records need to execute the scripts that require additional calculations, which increased the complexity of transaction records.

Fifth, different hardware node conditions. 

As the hardware gets better, the speed will get faster and the performance will increase. However, the blockchain still depends on the prevailing conditions and requirements at the time, which indicate whether it can meet the requirements of the transactions.


The Status of the Blockchain’s Performance

What is the status of the blockchain’s performance?

The Bitcoin blockchain can now reach 7 transactions per second, and its reaction time is 10 minutes, which corresponds to an average time. In contrast, Ethereum has an estimated speed limit of around 20 transactions per second. And PBFT, another blockchain, is capable of reaching several thousand transactions per second. These figures include the time required for transfer payments and contract transactions.

At the moment, the speed of blockchains is slow. This is one of the points we will discuss in The Bottlenecks and Optimisation Directions of the Blockchain’s Performance.

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