14 Aug, 2021

As Blockchains Grow Bigger, Full Node Counts Increase

Way back in 2016, the number of full nodes within the Bitcoin network was dropping. At the time, the dropping number of nodes, fuelled the scaling debate, among bitcoin enthusiasts.

However, in contrary to people’s expectations, the full node count of BTC has been increasing and over the past year, it has crossed over 06 percent.

What is a full node?

full node is basically a computer that connects to a cryptocurrency’s network and downloads every single block and transaction on the blockchain. As full nodes record the entire blockchain’s network activity in real time, they rely on both storage and bandwidth requirements.

A wide variety of digital assets that utilize blockchains have participants running full nodes on networks like dash, litecoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, and bitcoin core. There are also a lot of ‘lightweight nodes’ which do not download entire blockchains but rather verify transactions by downloading the associated block headers. One of the cheapest methods of building a full node is using a Raspberry Pi computer, and a one terabyte external drive for roughly $100 USD. There are also many businesses that sell pre-manufactured full nodes but these are usually far more expensive.

BTC Node Count Jumps to Over 11,800 Reachable Nodes in 2018

At the moment, BTC has around 11,703 nodes that interact within that specific network. The number of nodes is never static and continually changes when participants either drop off the network or join. According to Bitnodes statistics, this metric has increased significantly over the past year, and the 12-month average has been roughly 8,643 nodes.

Alternative Clients Move Towards Supporting the Bitcoin Cash Network

Another interesting trend that has taken place over the last year was the August 1 hard fork and the bitcoin cash (BCH) blockchain split. Since the inception of BCH nodes, alternative nodes on the BTC network have dropped in numbers sharply.

Implementations such as Bitcoin Unlimited, XT, and others started to assist the BCH network and contribute to its node count. Currently, BCH has 1,231 nodes between four types of clients. Bitcoin ABC is the dominant client with 1,024 nodes which is followed by Unlimited, XT, and some unrecognized implementations as well. BCH supporting nodes have also increased significantly over time, and their numbers saw all-time highs throughout November and December of 2017.

Even Though BCH Uses Bigger Blocks, The BTC Chain Is Still 20 GB Larger

Overall both the BTC and BCH blockchains have grown in size as far as storage capacity is concerned. Presently the bitcoin core network adds roughly 50 GB a year to the blockchain’s size, and the BCH chain is already 8,517 blocks ahead of the core chain.

Most people would think that because BCH miners process much larger blocks, a full client’s storage size would be more substantial. However, as of today, the BTC chain has grown 20.66 GB more than the BCH chain, even with BCH blocks processed at anywhere between 2-8 MB in size.