High-performance members of a blockchain network
Previously we looked at members of a blockchain network – otherwise known as nodes. Nodes can be understood as connection points within a network, which are capable of relaying information to other members. Different kinds of nodes perform different functions in blockchain networks, from mining blocks to autonomously processing transactions. The most high-performing nodes in a blockchain are called supernodes, also known as master nodes or listening nodes.
Supernodes are highly connected points in a blockchain network. In general, they are permanently switched on and constantly run the blockchain software – this makes them a reliable point of contact for other nodes to join or rejoin the network. The disadvantage of this is that supernodes must be publicly connectable, leaving them vulnerable to malicious attacks. They also use considerably more processing power than other nodes as they make connections and transfer information to other network members.
In some blockchain networks, nodes must fulfill certain requirements to qualify as supernodes. In the NEM blockchain, for example, only accounts holding 3,000,000 or more XEM cryptocurrency tokens can operate a supernode. NEM supernodes must be operational 24 hours per day and pass four daily checks testing their bandwidth, computing power, and responsiveness. This ensures that supernodes – and consequently the entire blockchain – operates at the highest possible standard.
In the NEM blockchain, supernodes exist in their own layer of the network, separate from the layer which contains wallets and third-party apps. This enables these wallets and third parties to use the network without having to download or process the entire blockchain, thereby reducing demands on their processing power and storage. Supernodes can therefore be understood as the backbone of a blockchain structure. They perform CPU and storage-heavy tasks so that other users can interact quickly and easily with the network.