First Plug-in Node Aims to Boost Bitcoin's Network Security

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Bitseed has launched the first plug-in bitcoin node to encourage users to contribute to the bitcoin network, hassle-free.

The $149 node, which comes preconfigured with the official Bitcoin Core client, is credited with using less than 10 watts of power – approximately 12 times less than the average computer.

As an essential component of the bitcoin network, nodes broadcast messages in order to validate and relay transactions. Unlike bitcoin miners, who are rewarded for confirming transactions, there is no financial incentive for node operators.

According to its website, Bitseed's product tackles the fact that the blockchain can no longer run on notebooks, mobile devices or PCs, due to its increase in size.

The company claims that their new product allows users to keep bitcoin running continuously without slowing down their computer "or crimping your mobile lifestyle".

Bitseed node
The Bitseed Bitcoin Node. Source: Bitseed

However, there seems to be increasing competition on the horizon.

Addy Yeow, the developer behind Bitnodes, a website that monitors bitcoin nodes, spoke about his upcoming hardware solution, due to launch mid-2015.

"The goal of Bitnodes Hardware is to provision ready-to-run hardware for everyday consumers to launch their own bitcoin node at home and to become part of the network," he said.

Declining numbers

The news comes amid increasing concerns about the declining number of fully functioning bitcoin nodes.

According to Bitnodes' data there has been a 0.16% drop in the number of reachable nodes in the last three months, with Yeow confirming that there had not been any positive increment for over a year.

He said:

"Speculations aside, I believe the community has already acknowledged several technical factors that contribute to the decline with large storage requirement (by hosting standard), high bandwidth and slow bootstrap topping the list."

"Ideally, we want to see nodes dispersed across more ASNs [Autonomous System Numbers – a unique identifier for a network on the Internet] to improve the overall robustness of the bitcoin peer-to-peer network," Yeow added.

Industry incentivisation

The launch of Bitseed's Bitcoin Node follows on from other notable initiatives that set out to stimulate the growth in nodes.

CoinDesk previously spoke to Or Weinberger, the developer behind Fullnode, a non-profit open source project aimed at simplifying and automating the creation of full nodes with public donations in June last year.

A node is created once Fullnode's reaches $20 in bitcoin and is maintained for a month.

More recently, Yeow also launched the Bitnodes Incentive Program, experimental project that allows reachable nodes to receive weekly incentives paid for in bitcoin.

Yeow commented that four nodes had already received funds since launch four weeks ago, adding:

"I would love to see more nodes getting verified and becoming eligible for the program as we have only 130+ eligible nodes at the moment."