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What is Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET)?

  • Ashesh Anand
  • Nov 18, 2022
What is Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET)? title banner

Blockchain technology is not possible without consensus algorithms. They serve to guarantee consistency of the "main chain" across all network nodes. The blockchain then has a consistent state as a result. Consensus algorithms, according to tech entrepreneur Andreas Aandopoulos, have created a brand-new profession inside computer science.

 

One of the most notable consensus algorithms and blockchain mining algorithms is Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET), also known as the Test of Elapsed Time in Spanish. This consensus mechanism was created specifically for private blockchains and is very scalable. Due to this, it is unlikely that he will continue to maintain the public blockchain activity of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

 

PoET's potential is focused on using blockchain development as a component of systems with large information flow, though. For instance, businesses that require integrated auditing systems to ensure the immutability of the aforementioned information Chemical and medical laboratories, among other highly automated and technical assembly lines, would fall under this category.

 

 

Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET): What Is It? 

 

Proof of elapsed time (PoET) is a blockchain network consensus technique that uses a fair lottery system to maintain process efficiency while preventing excessive resource and energy consumption. 

 

On a blockchain network, the algorithm decides who gets to mine coins and who wins a block using a randomly generated amount of time. The PoET algorithm increases transparency by ensuring lottery results may be verified by outside parties by running a trusted code in a secure environment.

 

An effective substitute for proof of work (PoW) is proof of elapsed time (PoET). When using PoW, a candidate block must be created, and the message must be sent to all other nodes in the network. 

 

It is costly due to the electricity used by the specialized mining equipment (made expressly to compute the hash value in order to mine the following block on the blockchain). The node that discovers the hash value first takes over as the new leader and is rewarded with Bitcoins.

 

However, in PoET, every node independently controls a separate random timer that determines whether or not that node adds a new block to the blockchain and receives the reward. Additionally, this randomization makes sure that each node has an equal chance of winning.

 

Also Read | What is a Consortium Blockchain?

 

 

Origin of PoET:

 

PoET was first developed in 2016, when researchers from Intel, the largest processor design and development company in the world, started taking part in the project. Already headed by the Linux Foundation at the time was Hyperledger. 

 

At a similar time, Intel also began the development of Sawtooth Lake and declared its involvement in the project. This was an intriguing blockchain project funded by Hyperledger that aimed to provide technology for a private blockchain that is incredibly scalable.

 

Around this time, Intel unveiled Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET), a cryptographically secure time-lottery-based consensus technique. A ground-breaking idea that made use of all the technologies available in Intel processors. In fact, the technology is so closely related to Intel goods that it cannot be used with warranties from other companies products.

 

Also Read | All about Blockchain Interoperability in 2022

 

 

Understanding Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET):

 

On permissioned blockchain networks, the Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET) consensus mechanism method is frequently used to select the network's block winners or assign mining privileges. Blockchain networks with permissions are ones that demand personal identification from any potential members before allowing them to join. 

 

The PoET method is based on spreading the odds of winning equitably throughout the biggest number of network members, in accordance with the idea of a fair lottery system where every single node has an equal chance of winning.

 

The PoET algorithm functions as follows. The network requires each participating node to wait for a predetermined amount of time, which is chosen at random. The first node to finish the predetermined waiting time wins the new block. The blockchain network's nodes each produce a random wait time and go to sleep for that amount of time. 

 

The peer network as a whole receives the essential information when the first peer to awaken, or the one with the shortest wait time awakens and contributes a new block to the blockchain. The subsequent block discovery follows the same procedure.

 

Two crucial components must be guaranteed by the PoET network consensus process. First, the process makes sure that the participating nodes actually choose a random time and do not choose a shorter period on purpose in order to win. Second, the system proves that the winner has actually finished the waiting period.

 

Also Read | Types of Block in a Blockchain Network

 

 

Intel SGX:

 

The Proof of Elapsed Time is founded on two crucial factors that Intel SGX controls:

 

  • A certificate allowing the code to be regarded as dependable can be created by specialized hardware.

  • The trusted code is run in a secure setting. The reserved and private storage area cannot be inspected by or altered by the rest of the application.

 

The first point enables a network user to prove to other users that he is running trustworthy and accurate network code. Without this feature, the network is unable to determine whether a participant is truly executing the PoET properly. The second clause makes certain that a dishonest player cannot manipulate PoET's trusted code after it has already been set.

 

 

What is SGX?

 

Although SGX is a complicated technology, at its foundation, it just consists of a collection of CPU instructions that programs utilize to isolate particular, trusted portions of code and data. It offers developers a safe enclave to shield delicate information or code from interference or inspection from outside sources.

 

A platform or program that is rooted in the processor can create a signed attestation from code that executes in a TEE using SGX, proving that the code has been successfully initialized in a trusted environment. The functionality of PoET consensus is significantly affected by this feature, but it also introduces an inherent barrier to entry and restricts its applications.

 

Even hostile individuals who have physical access to a platform and have the highest authentication to access its memory cannot access the memory where the protected code is stored in SGX. SGX was welcomed as a security feature with high expectations because of the potential security it may provide.

 

To join the network and confirm that they are running the trusted code required for PoET consensus execution, participants use SGX in the context of PoET consensus.

 

Also Read | What is Proof of Stake in Cryptocurrency?


The image describes how the PoET technique works.

How does the Proof of Elapsed Time Work?


How Does the Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET) Algorithm Operate?

 

Everyone in the network has an equal chance of winning the prize and adding a new block to the network thanks to the time-lottery concept. Each participating node has a stopwatch that is kept up to date by the PoET controller. 

 

It guarantees that their waiting period is over, and they can now forge a new block. The block and a cryptographic test are sent to the PoET controller for verification when the node awakens. If the controller authorizes the newly suggested block by the first node to wake up, the newly proposed block is chosen. If not, it is discarded. The selection process for choosing a waiting time is then restarted.

 

Let's precisely break down the procedure into steps.

 

Selection Process:

 

To create a new block in the network, each participating node must first share its certificate created by the Intel Software Guard Extension (SGX). They are then qualified to receive a timer object.

 

The integers that Intel's RAND random number generator instruction assigned to each node as a timer object (waiting countdown time). It produces erratic values that are challenging to identify.

 

The time object that was given to each participant node now starts to function.

  

Generation Process:

 

It will be possible for the node to create a new block for the network after the time object expires and it awakens.

 

The active node creates the hash of its block of transactions and submits it for approval using a hash function like SHA-256. It is not necessary to display the node's computation work.

 

The update is then broadcast throughout the network.

 

Also Read | An Introduction to DataOps: Factors, Principles & Advantages

 

 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using PoET:

 

PoET has significant issues, but it is also quite effective and uses a fraction of the resources of proof of work systems. What are the benefits and drawbacks of using it as a consensus mechanism for distributed ledger networks in general?

 

  • Advantages:

 

PoET significantly boosts the effectiveness of proof of work systems. At the same time, it offers a fantastic solution to the "Random Leader Selection Problem" without requiring a lot of resources or the complicated incentive structures and staking procedures required for proof of stake consensus.

 

PoET is the preferred consensus method for Hyperledger Sawtooth since it is a great permissioned network consensus mechanism as well. Additionally, it scales effectively and serves as a "plug and play" model for testing Hyperledger Sawtooth setups.

 

 

  • Disadvantages:

 

Although SGX is a celebrated and cutting-edge technology, recent events have raised questions about its compatibility with the PoET consensus. Although Intel will probably be able to address the major vulnerability, this situation has the drawback of being dependent on the security of specialized hardware.

 

Additionally, since Intel is the sole manufacturer of SGX, a third party, the consensus model also depends on Intel. Such dependency goes against the new paradigm that cryptocurrencies are trying to realize through blockchain networks, which is the elimination of trust in middlemen.

 

 

Proof of Work (PoW) VS Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET):

 

Proof of Work (PoW) requires nodes (or miners) to perform computing work in order to be qualified to add a new block. PoET, on the other hand, chooses a participant node at random from a pool of participants by allocating waiting time objects. In this case, mining a new block is equally available to all nodes.

 

PoET is significantly more energy and time efficient than PoW. It is more trustworthy and reliable because it is supported by Intel Corporation, one of the well-known technology behemoths.

 

Also Read | What is Proof of Work in Crypto and How does it Work?

 

 

Conclusion:

 

For distributed ledger systems, PoET is yet another attempt at supplying Byzantine Fault Tolerance consensus mechanisms. It utilizes SGX, which is a unique technology in and of itself and is quite effective.

 

The future of PoET as a sustainable consensus model will be greatly impacted by what happens with SGX. It currently serves as a superb tool for Hyperledger Sawtooth and is essential for experimentation and advancements with respect to modular blockchain frameworks.

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