Node Decentralization On The Internet Computer


Many blockchain networks have miners and validators worldwide who compete to achieve decentralization either through mining blocks through PoW or through validating the network by staking through PoS. However, there are various problems with these methods as they’ve inevitably led to a centralization of mining resources in mining pools such as AntPool, and they’ve also led to rich actors influencing the network with their significant resources in PoS.

The Internet Computer’s architecture and algorithm at the hardware and consensus layer, on the other hand, is slightly different and provides for a more decentralized network through other means.

How The Internet Computer’s Architecture Provides For A More Decentralized Network

First, the Internet Computer is a blockchain hosted on node machines operated by independent parties located in geographically distributed data centers. These nodes are what run the Internet Computer Protocol (ICP), which facilitates a fault-tolerant protocol ensuring that IC smart contracts cannot be tampered with or stopped. Then on top of these nodes are individual subnet blockchains, which host smart contract canisters that essentially host the applications, data, and services running on the IC.

Second, subnets are what allow the IC to scale indefinitely. This brings us to the problem with traditional blockchains i.e., they’re limited by the computing power of those that run the network, in other words, the nodes. This is because each node has to run a copy of the blockchain. But what the IC does is it allows for more nodes to be created, and thus more subnets to achieve scaling through essentially “sharding,” with an end result of added computational power.

Third, the invisible hand that manages the network’s decentralization, subnets, node machines, and ICP parameters is the Network Nervous System (NNS). The NNS governs the network.

In summary, all these moving pieces allow the IC to achieve unlimited scaling along with greater decentralization, and nodes are the focal point for this effort.

How Internet Computer Nodes & Data Centers Allow For More Decentralization?

One of the great things about the IC is its international nature, and that its data centers are spread across the United States, Europe, and Asia. However, there have been calls to make the network even more decentralized and geographically representative. So that’s what’s happening right now.

The map below shows the current standing of the IC’s node network, with the blue radius representing active nodes, which are mainly based in Europe and the United States. There are currently ~650 nodes on the network, with a majority of those being in the United States. There are also 79 node providers and 35 subnets. All these numbers can be found on the Internet Computer Dashboard.

But to take this to the next level, the IC is making it easier for node providers to get onboarded and operate new data centers. This new process of onboarding additional nodes to the network and replacing old data centers with new ones will increase the total node count to 1300. It will allow for increased computational capacity for services and applications running on the network.

In summary, the team at IC is working on implementing the onboarding process to the NNS Frontend DApp to provide a better UI-supported process for node providers, and they’re working on decentralizing the data center setup process. Let’s explore these two concepts and processes to clarify how it works.

Becoming A Node Provider

Normally, one can apply to be a node, but as said above, the team is currently onboarding around 800 node applications, which will bring the network to a total of 1300 nodes. So there’s currently no way to create an application at the moment. But as the announcement below says, interested parties can sign up to stay up to date about when the enhanced decentralized node deployment process is announced. This enhanced process will require nodes to conform to certain standards and new onboarding requirements.

The Internet Computer is launching this new process as it begins its next stage of development. The IC also has a goal of hosting millions of nodes and thus a similar amount of canister smart contracts and applications. In order for the network to scale, this node onboarding upgrade is needed.

So on the roadmap, you can expect independent node provider registration, NNS-drive data center allocation, and availability of node hardware. So these three prongs will strengthen the network’s decentralization by allowing more nodes to come online, more automated node addition and data center system, and providing for the availability of node hardware.

To join the conversation about how the Internet Computer is entertaining this process, there’s an ongoing forum that’s discussing the implications of these initiatives.


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All About The Internet Computer
All About The Internet Computer

This blog is dedicated to exploring the Internet Computer's tech stack, how it compares to the industry, projects building on the Internet Computer, and what ways the Internet Computer is creating true Web3.

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