In the context of blockchain technology, the term node represents a single electronic device or a PC which takes part in the blockchain network. These nodes are essential in supporting the decentralized nature of blockchain systems and are responsible for a wide range of tasks within the blockchain.
For example, Ethereum nodes are important for the Ethereum blockchain network. They help with security, consensus, and functionality. Nodes validate and relay transactions and smart contracts. They store the blockchain history and communicate with other nodes for consensus.
Types of Ethereum nodes
Full Node: A full node contributes to the network by accepting transactions and blocks from other full nodes, verifying them, and then distributing them to other full nodes. It maintains an exact copy of the blockchain data.
Ethereum full nodes carry out all of the instructions included in the smart contract when a smart contract transaction is carried out. Together, you should assess if the smart contract execution is resulting in the expected outcome. However, running full Ethereum nodes is expensive and requires a lot of electric power.
Full Node Clients
An Ethereum software implementation known as a client checks each block's transactions to ensure the network's security and the accuracy of the transaction data. All transactions in each block are verified by Ethereum full node clients, which gives the network security and accurate data.
Each Ethereum client has a unique set of features and benefits. Due to its diversity, implementations may be adapted to various user groups. When choosing an Ethereum node client, take into account features, support, the web3 programming language, and licensing.
Light Node: Instead of storing the entire block contents like, similarly to what full nodes does, a light node contains block header information such as the hash of the previous block and a timestamp. Only the portions of the state that its users require are validated by light nodes, which submit on-demand requests to full nodes.
Light nodes may be advantageous for low-capacity devices like personal computers since they don't need to execute costly data writing and storing functions. This type of nodes are widely used in transaction validations to confirm completion of the processing by the network, it is used in examining balances and for checking events` logs.
Archive node (archive node vs full node): Archive node is very similar to the full node as it contains the exact same data, including history state data from the first block, which is also known as the Genesis block. Despite the ability of full nodes to rebuild old blockchain state data, the aforementioned drawbacks of being time-consuming and inefficient come to play. In some scenarios, data must be processed very rapidly, which makes the full nodes` suitability invalid.
Archive nodes are the alternative due to their ability to store historical data and keep gigabytes of information. Their use cases are rarely useful to the end user, but are invaluable to service providers, block explorers, wallets, analytics companies and others.
Geth vs Erigon
Written in the Go programming language, Geth (Go Ethereum) is one of the first and most popular Ethereum clients. It has a large command-line interface (CLI) for managing nodes and supports both PoW and PoS consensus processes. It is ideal for a wide spectrum of users, including miners, users and developers.
Erigon, on the other hand, is written in the Rust programming language. It is high performance, efficient and scalable, making it best suited for infrastructure providers, apps that require efficient blockchain data processing, and miners. In comparison to Geth, Erigon provides flatter storage, faster synchronization speed, runs on parallel processing systems, creates smaller storage footprints and it might be the better choice for developers in general.
Provided below is a table which outlines most of the standard methods implemented in both Geth and Erigon. These methods are Ethereum JSON-RPC methods that all execution clients must implement. Note that despite being implemented for both clients, Erigon team either has not implemented some of the methods or is falling to recognize the need for their deployment.
How to choose the right node type
The choice of the appropriate Ethereum node to deploy depends on your specific use case and available resources because node setup and functionalities vary.
By running your own node, you can utilize Ethereum in a private, self-sustaining, and trustless manner. Running your own node allows you to verify data using your own node client, eliminating the need to rely on the network's trustworthiness.
One of the advantages of a full node is its ability to directly communicate with any smart contract on the public blockchain. Additionally, full nodes can now deploy smart contracts onto the public blockchain.
However, it's important to note that the benefits of unlimited data usage, storage, and direct smart contract capabilities come at a cost. Running a full node can consume significant hardware resources and bandwidth.
Archive nodes, similar to full nodes, store all the information that a full node does and maintain a history of blockchain states. Even after a client has finished synchronisation, archive nodes preserve previous data.
If your application requires access to historical blockchain information, you'll need to run your own archive node or choose a blockchain node provider that offers archive node access.
Light nodes are similar to full nodes, but they handle a smaller amount of data. They store header chain data and only retrieve additional data when specifically requested. While they can validate data validity, light nodes do not fully participate in block validation.
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