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NSDI '08 – Abstract

Pp. 189–204 of the Proceedings

BFT Protocols Under Fire

Atul Singh, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems and Rice University; Tathagata Das, IIT Kharagpur; Petros Maniatis, Intel Research Berkeley; Peter Druschel, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems; Timothy Roscoe, ETH Zürich


Much recent work on Byzantine state machine replication focuses on protocols with improved performance under benign conditions (LANs, homogeneous replicas, limited crash faults), with relatively little evaluation under typical, practical conditions (WAN delays, packet loss, transient disconnection, shared resources). This makes it difficult for system designers to choose the appropriate protocol for a real target deployment. Moreover, most protocol implementations differ in their choice of runtime environment, crypto library, and transport, hindering direct protocol comparisons even under similar conditions.

We present a simulation environment for such protocols that combines a declarative networking system with a robust network simulator. Protocols can be rapidly implemented from pseudocode in the high-level declarative language of the former, while network conditions and (measured) costs of communication packages and crypto primitives can be plugged into the latter. We show that the resulting simulator faithfully predicts the performance of native protocol implementations, both as published and as measured in our local network.

We use the simulator to compare representative protocols under identical conditions and rapidly explore the effects of changes in the costs of crypto operations, workloads, network conditions and faults. For example, we show that Zyzzyva outperforms protocols like PBFT and Q/U under most but not all conditions, indicating that one-size-fits-all protocols may be hard if not impossible to design in practice.

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Last changed: 11 Aug 2008 mn