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Last update: March 10, 2022

Configure IBFT consensus

GoQuorum implements the IBFT proof of authority consensus protocol. IBFT is supported for existing private networks, but QBFT is the recommended enterprise-grade consensus protocol for private networks. You can migrate an IBFT network to QBFT.

You can create a private network using IBFT.

In IBFT networks, approved accounts known as validators validate transactions and blocks. Validators take turns to create the next block. Before inserting a block onto the chain, a super-majority (greater than 66%) of validators must first sign the block.

Existing validators propose and vote to add or remove validators. Adding or removing a validator requires a majority vote (greater than 50%) of validators.

Important

Configure your network to ensure you never lose ⅓ or more of your validators. If more than ⅓ of validators stop participating, new blocks are no longer created, and the network stalls. It may take significant time to recover once nodes are restarted.

Blocks in IBFT protocol are final, meaning there are no forks, and valid blocks must be in the main chain.

To prevent a faulty node from generating a different chain from the main chain, each validator appends ceil(2N/3) of received COMMIT signatures to the extraData field in a block’s header before inserting it into the chain. Therefore, all blocks are self-verifiable.

Minimum number of validators

IBFT requires four validators to be Byzantine fault tolerant. Byzantine fault tolerance is the ability for a blockchain network to function correctly and reach consensus despite nodes failing or propagating incorrect information to peers.

Genesis file

To use IBFT, GoQuorum requires a genesis file. The genesis file defines properties specific to IBFT and to your specific network.

Example IBFT genesis file

  {
    "config": {
      "chainId": 1337,
      "homesteadBlock": 0,
      "eip150Block": 0,
      "eip150Hash": "0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000",
      "eip155Block": 0,
      "eip158Block": 0,
      "byzantiumBlock": 0,
      "constantinopleBlock": 0,
      "istanbul": {
        "epoch": 30000,
        "policy": 0,
        "ceil2Nby3Block": 0
      },
      "txnSizeLimit": 64,
      "maxCodeSize": 0,
      "isQuorum": true
    },
    "nonce": "0x0",
    "timestamp": "0x5f1663fc",
    "extraData": "0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000f89af8549493917cadbace5dfce132b991732c6cda9bcc5b8a9427a97c9aaf04f18f3014c32e036dd0ac76da5f1894ce412f988377e31f4d0ff12d74df73b51c42d0ca9498c1334496614aed49d2e81526d089f7264fed9cb8410000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000c0",
    "gasLimit" : "0xf7b760",
    "difficulty": "0x1",
    "mixHash": "0x63746963616c2062797a616e74696e65206661756c7420746f6c6572616e6365",
    "coinbase": "0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000",
    "alloc": {},
    "number": "0x0",
    "gasUsed": "0x0",
    "parentHash": "0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000"
  }

The properties specific to IBFT are in the istanbul section:

  • epoch - Number of blocks that should pass before pending validator votes are reset.
  • policy - Proposer selection policy, which is 0 (Round Robin) or 1 (Sticky). ‘Round Robin’ is where validators take turns in proposing blocks, and ‘Sticky’ is where a single validator proposes blocks until they go offline or are unreachable.
  • ceil2Nby3Block - Sets the block number from which to use an updated formula for calculating the number of faulty nodes. For new networks, we recommended setting this to 0 to use the updated formula immediately.
  • extraData - RLP encoded string with a list of validators. RLP encoding is a space-efficient object serialization scheme used in Ethereum.

Block time

The block time is the minimum time between two consecutive IBFT blocks’ timestamps in seconds. Setting the block time determines how quickly blocks should be minted by the validators. The default is 1 second.

You can set the block time on each GoQuorum node with the istanbul.blockperiod option:

--istanbul.blockperiod <INTEGER>

You can also set a requesttimeout by using the istanbul.requesttimeout option:

--istanbul.requesttimeout <INTEGER>

Important

If more than ⅓ of validators stop participating, new blocks can no longer be created and requesttimeoutseconds doubles with each round change. The quickest method to resume block production is to restart all validators, which resets requesttimeoutseconds to its genesis value.

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