Conformal Systems, an open-source software company, is creating BTCSim to answer the question of what would happen if Bitcoin transaction volumes reach those of major credit card companies.
The software is under development on github, but BTCSim simulations have already produced results.
Maximum Block Size
The current maximum block size is 1MB, but the simulations show that the maximum block size that can be processed by a full node running on a single machine is about 32 MB.
Maximum Transaction Rate
Bitcoin’s main net transaction rate is 0.9 transactions per second (tps), while major credit card companies reach a rate of about 3,000 tps. Conformal Systems tested for the maximum transaction rate that can happen on a full node running on a single machine, and found that the maximum transaction rate for a 32MB block is approximately 270 tps (because a 32 MB block holds about 167,000 transactions and is mined once every 10 minutes).
Scaling above 300 tps requires a clustered full node.
A full node’s processing efforts are dominated by verifying the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). BTCSim simulations finds that scaling Bitcoin above a 300 tps transaction volume would require a cluster of machines for verification of the ECDSA signature.
Lastly, according to the simulation studies, a full node running on a 10 machine cluster can achieve a transaction rate of 2,000+ tps.
Some of us would like to see Bitcoin go to the moon, and to get there, the technological challenges must be carefully overcome. The BitSim studies are showing that increasing the block size to reach transaction rates that rival those of major credit card companies could lead to significant centralization of mining power unless computing power grows fast enough to keep up with the growth of Bitcoin.
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