Welcome to the Node Lab!

Woman working on a laptop
This is cross posted from the xx network BetaNet forum! See it here to join the community and discussion.

Greetings everyone. My name is Keith Millette. If you’ve spent time on the xx network Discord channel you may know me as Lord Vetinari. A few weeks ago I joined the xx network team to set up a node lab in South Korea. The node lab will serve as an empirical environment for the xx network teams to test code,  software delivery methods, and gather useful metrics. The goals of the lab are to finalize the deployment strategy and to recommend tried and tested hardware to those of you who submitted applications to be node runners. xx network aims to set node runners up for success from the very start.

Much time has passed since the initial specs were published. In the planning stages of the GPU nodes, Benjamin Wenger calculated the BetaNet node requirements and published them in early 2018. The specs suggested an AMD Ryzen 2700x GPU, Nvidia RTX 2070 GPU, 16 GB RAM, ASRock AB350 Pro4 and 1TB of storage which would cost about $1600. After discussing this configuration with the developers of cMix and xxBFT, all agreed that the lab should house nodes built using budget to mid-range components. We aim to determine the minimum requirements and the most cost effective configurations. We intend to prove the xx network is not like other blockchains. Expensive and overpowered nodes are not a requirement.

Here’s a breakdown of the hardware we’ve selected to use in the lab:

  • I’m using the AMD Ryzen 3700x rather than the 2700x. The disruption to the global supply chain and reduced price made this the best option. I chose to include the Intel i7-9700K processor because they do meet the specs and we want people who have Intel CPUs to be able to use them.
  • I’m using some ATX and mATX form factor motherboards from multiple manufacturers. I’m using four different chipsets with the AMD CPUs, the A320, B350, B450, and X370. And with the Intel CPUs, the Z370 and B360 chipsets. This allows us to recommend the widest range of motherboards to meet the requirements of the network and also the budget of the node runners.
  • The GPUs are still limited to the RTX family of Nvidia GPUs due to the fact the Nvida Turing architecture has 32 bit multiplication units in its shaders which massively improve the performance of precomputation. In the lab I chose to use the RTX 2070 from many manufacturers so as to meet the computational requirements and also node runners’ budget. I also selected an RTX 2060 and GTX 1660 ti to test the lower boundary.
  • As for memory and storage capacity both cMix and the blockchain have different requirements and to determine the appropriate amount we settled on 8-32 GB of RAM using 4 or 8 GB modules. During testing I will be using 512GB Samsung EVO SDDs but we will ultimately recommend each node to use an enterprise level SSD due to write endurance.
  • In all there will be 10 nodes used for the in-house testing.

In the end, we expect to be able to recommend configurations for an individual node that will cost less than previously projected.

I, and the rest of the xx network team, look forward to working with the community on setting up and deploying the xx network BetaNet. I’ll be detailing what you will and won’t need as far as hardware and network requirements so as to bring BetaNet to fruition.