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Understanding Reef Architecture: From Concept to Code and Beyond!

Welcome to our in-depth analysis of the Reef Chain. In this blog, we'll delve into the specifics of Reef Chain's unique architecture, addressing the challenges of scalability, interoperability, and upgradeability in the blockchain landscape.

Background:

Blockchain technology has revamped the world of the internet & web immensely— first introduced as a distributed ledger, it has now evolved in multiple forms & variants.

The current rising demand for Web3 technology created a need in the market that the existing tech could not fulfill. Many blockchains have tried to explore the true essence of a decentralized and modular web in their architecture, but the real modularity and innovation are yet to unfold, and challenges like scalability, upgradability, and interoperability are yet to be resolved.

To address such pressing problems of the space, Reef, the leading Gen III Layer 1 blockchain of MENA emerged, which incorporates a flexible, open, interoperable, and future-proof architecture. Our modular node architecture of the chain allows fast, seamless, and secure communication coupled with energy-efficient consensus and scalable infrastructure.

Reef Chain Infrastructure pushes the limits to preserve the raw essence of the decentralized web.

Let’s understand & discuss the Node architecture of the Reef Chain in detail.

The node architecture is the core crux and backbone of every blockchain. The Reef Chain has a unique node design that includes core services and libraries which can be customized and upgraded over time. Such functionalities ensure a future-proofing and adaptive infrastructure module that caters to the upcoming generational advancements & version upgrades.

The Reef Chain node is divided into two main components- Client & Runtime, both having a distinguished task to fulfill:

Core Client: The core client is an outer node service that handles the network activities, which include peer discovery, transaction request management, handling consensus among peers, and responding to RPC calls.

Runtime: The runtime contains all the business logic that executes the state transition function of the blockchain. Both components have their own set of libraries and modules comprising a unique pallet or bundle of features & functionalities which can be upgraded over time.

Now before we shed light on these modules and libraries, let us understand the key service and importance of Client & Runtime. The core client is responsible for important activities that are performed outside of runtime or are referred to as outer node services.

Some of the most important activities that are handled by core client services involve the following components:

  • Storage: An efficient key-value storage layer.

  • Peer-to-peer networking: Where Rust implementation of the libp2p network stack is used to communicate with other network participants.

  • Consensus: To communicate with network participants to ensure they agree on the state of the blockchain.

  • Remote procedure call (RPC) API: Accepts inbound HTTP and WebSocket requests to allow blockchain users to interact with the network.

  • Telemetry: Collecting & providing access to node metrics through an embedded Prometheus server.

  • Execution environment: Selecting the execution environment—WebAssembly or native Rust—for the runtime to use, then dispatching calls to the runtime selected.

Such features can also be changed over time, providing room for innovation.

Whereas, the Runtime determines whether transactions are valid or invalid and is responsible for handling changes to the blockchain state. Requests coming from outside come through the client into the runtime, and the runtime is responsible for the state transition functions and storing the resulting state. In essence, the runtime is responsible for handling everything that happens on-chain.

The WebAssembly (Wasm) design of Runtime enables:

  • Forkless Upgrades

  • MultiVM/Platform Compatibility & Support

  • Runtime Validity Checking

  • And much more….

Now that we have acquired a deep understanding of the core client and runtime, let us take a deep dive into the core libraries that are the building blocks of the client and runtime.

Similar to the node architecture, which is composed of two main components, libraries are also divided into three main areas.

Library Types:

1/ Core Client Libraries for outer node services

The Core Client Libraries are mostly corresponding to their earlier discussed activities which include Keystore(Storage), Networking, Consensus, API, Telemetry, and Executor. But the notable one is the service library which starts a thread that spins up the network, client, and extrinsic pool and also manages the communication between them.

2/ Runtime Library & Module

Now, the interesting bundle is that of Runtime, which includes multiple libraries comprising of but not limited to:

  • System: Defines low-level types for primitives, storage items, and core functions for the Reef Chain.

  • Indices: Allocates indices for newly created accounts. An index is a short form of an address.

  • Session: Allows validators to manage their session keys, provides a function for changing the session length, and handles session rotation.

  • Staking: Manages funds that have been staked by network maintainers.

  • Balances: Provides functionality for handling accounts and balances.

  • BABE: Extends BABE consensus by collecting on-chain randomness from VRF outputs and managing epoch transitions.

  • GRANDPA: Extends the GRANDPA consensus by managing the GRANDPA authority set ready for the native code.

  • Authority_Discovery: Retrieves the current set of authorities, learns its own authority ID, and signs and verifies messages to and from other authorities.

  • im_online: Allows validators to gossip a heartbeat transaction with each new session to signal that the node is online.

Other than these libraries, Runtime comprises Modules that can be upgraded and improved over time.

VM Module: The module that allows support to incorporate multi-system support in Reef Chain.

3/ Primitive Libraries for underlying functions and interfaces for communication

Currently, Reef Chain allows support for EVM, or we can also say that it incorporates an EVM module in its runtime. Since we now have a clear understanding of Core Client & Runtime Libraries, we are all set to explore the most important set of libraries called Primitive Library.

These primitive libraries enable control over underlying operations and enable communication between the core client services and the runtime. They provide the lowest level of abstraction to expose interfaces that the core client or the runtime can use to perform operations or interact with each other.

Some of the notable ones that comprise the Reef Chain’s Primitive Library collection are shown in the diagram below.

  • Core: It offers shareable network types.

  • Std: It exports useful primitives from the client to be used with any code that depends on the runtime.

  • Timestamp: To set and validate timestamp with each block where the data is provided by the block author and verified by other validators.

  • API: The Reef Chain’s runtime API is the interface between the node and the runtime

  • Version: Each runtime that should be executed by Reef Chain needs to have a runtime version. The runtime version is used to distinguish different runtimes.

  • Consensus: Common utilities for building and using consensus engine in Reef Chain, which includes BABE & GRANDPA

  • Runtime: The modules of Runtime with shared primitive type

  • Authority_Discovery: It’s a Runtime API that helps to discover authorities.

  • Block_Builder: The BlockBuilder API trait is that it provides the required functionality for building a block.

  • Session: It’s a core type for all sorts of session activities.

Here, we must have developed a clear picture in our mind with a detailed understanding of both the core components and their functions & libraries of the Reef Chain. Such advanced & modular architecture ensures robust infrastructure for dApp developers.

But every blockchain is incomplete without an amazing and reliable consensus mechanism that unlocks the decentralized portal on the blockchain network. Reef Chain also incorporates its consensus mechanism to agree on the blockchain state.

Consensus

The Reef Chain utilizes the Nominated Proof-of-Stake or NPoS Consensus mechanism to agree on the blockchain state. NPoS combines the security of PoS with added benefits of stakeholder voting, where only nominated nodes are allowed to participate in block validation.

NPoS is designed to incentivize good behaviour and filter out malicious activity on the blockchain. The consensus mechanism comprises two separate phases:

  • Block authoring: the process nodes use to create new blocks.

  • Block finalization: the process used to handle forks and choose the canonical chain.

Here, the block authoring phase operates on Blind assignment of blockchain extension or BABE, which offers slot-based scheduling. Whereas, the Block finalization phase is taken care of by the GRANDPA protocol, which says that the best chain is the longest chain.

Since we are all set with architecture and the consensus mechanism. Let us take a deep dive into one of the most crucial aspects of a blockchain network. Cryptography plays a key role in design as it provides the mathematical variableness behind consensus systems, data integrity, and user security. Reef Chain is engineered by keeping it important to consider the computational costs of the cryptography method, prioritizing efficiency and processor loads. Such considerations make Blake2 an ideal cryptographic mechanism.

Blake2 is a relatively recent hashing method that provides equal or greater security than SHA2 while also being significantly faster than other comparable algorithms.

While determining the exact benchmark of its speed improvements over other hashing methods is highly dependent on hardware specifications, the biggest positive implication for Reef is how it heavily reduces the amount of time and resources a new node will need in order to sync with the chain, and to a lesser extent, lower required time for validating.

Hereafter having a deep analysis and gaining knowledge of every aspect of Reef Chain’s Architecture & Design.

Let’s check out the characteristics of Reef Chain in a nutshell:

  • Flexible in terms of modifications as it has inbuilt forkless auto-update functionalities. Making upgrades fast and adaptive.

  • Faster throughput rates of around 465 TPS while performing complex on-chain transfers.

  • Incorporates open protocols such as libp2p and custom jsonRPC for customizing the architecture

  • Support for EVM-provider, hardhat library, Remix IDE, Reef Wallet extension etc. offers extensive development environment.

  • Future proofing & customization with modular Gen III architecture.

Conclusion:

As we wrap up our analysis of Reef Chain, we can appreciate its forward-thinking approach to Web3 technology. Its unique features and robust architecture demonstrate the potential of this platform to revolutionize the decentralized web.

We hope this blog has been a helpful guide for you to get a deep insight into the Reef Chain. Stay tuned as we have a lot more exciting guides coming to cater to your information needs on our ever-evolving expanding blockchain.

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