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Consensus Team Update

· 4 min read
Damian Nadales

High-level summary

During the past two weeks, the consensus team worked on adding property test for different aspects of the UTxO HD prototype: era transitions, mempool, and backing store. Thanks to these tests we were able to uncover a bug in the prototype. On the Genesis front, we benchmarked a different version of the ChainSync jumping prototype to try to improve its performance, but this did not result in any noticeable speedup.

High-level status report

  • Finish the UTxO HD prototype: on track.
    • We focused on increasing test coverage for the UTxO-HD prototype:
      • We started implementing Cadano-eras transition property-tests.
      • We started implementing state-machine property-tests for the mempool.
      • We merged the mempool rewrite.
      • We started working on state-machine tests for the backing store. This uncovered a bug in the range-read implementation of the LMDB backing store.
  • Genesis: on track.
    • We benchmarked a version of the Genesis ChainSync Jumping prototype that spreads out the ChainSync updates over a longer period of time. This did not result in any noticeable speedup.
    • We investigated the overhead introduced by non-ChainSync components, but no conclusions could be drawn from the benchmarks we ran.


Finish the UTxO HD prototype

We focused on increasing test coverage for the UTxO HD prototype. We also merged the mempool rewrite.

Era transition property tests

We started implementing Cardano era transition property tests, which are needed for making sure that the ledger tables get updated in the right way when we move from one era to the next. There are at the moment two important transitions.

  • Byron to Shelley: where all the UTxO is transferred from in-memory Byron state (which has no tables) to the ledger tables of the Shelley state.
  • Shelley to Allegra: where the AVVM addresses must be deleted.

We have tests for the Byron to Shelley transitions. We are working on adding the remaining ones.

Mempool state-machine tests

We started implementing state-machine property tests for the mempool. The mempool is currently tested via pure property tests, and use a ledger state without tables. With the introduction of UTxO HD, testing the concurrent behavior of the mempool became of crucial importance (eg now we have to acquire locks to flush the backing store). In addition, we need to test a ledger state with tables. These needs led to the creation of a new set of property tests. In particular we aim to run parallel state-machine tests that exercise the mempool in a way similar to how the node would make use of it.

Backing store property tests

We started working on state-machine tests for the backing store that UTxO HD uses. The property tests uncovered errors in the range-reads implementation of the LMDB backing store. To facilitate fixing this bug, we made changes to the Haskell LMDB bindings.

Benchmarking the CSJ prototype

Prompted by previous benchmarks showing significant improvements in sync time by using more capabilities, we implemented a way to spread out the ChainSync updates over a larger period instead of firing them all at the same time. This didn't result in a noticeable speedup.

We also benchmarked the prototype with CSJ disabled (such that just the dynamo peer is running ChainSync, but e.g. BlockFetch still sees all peers) to rule out/confirm overhead by non-ChainSync (mainly BlockFetch) related components. This results in era-specific behavior (speed is like the prototype in Byron, but like the baseline in Shelley). This deserves a closer look in the future.

This diagram shows the respective syncing progress, starting at Genesis and continuing a good part into Shelley (with the dashed line indicating the Byron-to-Shelley transition).

  • Red: baseline
  • Green: CSJ prototype, 10 peers, jumps every 3000/f slots, jumps in clumps.
  • Blue: like Green, jumps are spread out.
  • Orange: variant with no jumping, to measure unrelated overhead.