Cost-Effective Data Feeds to Blockchains via Workload-Adaptive Data Replication

Kai Li, Yuzhe Tang, Jiaqi Chen, Zhehu Yuan, Cheng Xu, and Jianliang Xu


Feeding external data to a blockchain, a.k.a. data feed, is an essential task to enable blockchain interoperability and support emerging cross-domain applications, notably stablecoins. Given the data-intensive feeds in real life (e.g., high-frequency price updates) and the high cost in using blockchain, namely Gas, it is imperative to reduce the Gas cost of data feeds. Motivated by the constant-changing workloads in finance and other applications, this work focuses on designing a dynamic, workload-aware approach for cost effectiveness in Gas. This design space is understudied in the existing blockchain research which has so far focused on static data placement.

This work presents GRuB, a cost-effective data feed that dynamically replicates data between the blockchain and an off-chain cloud storage. GRuB’s data replication is workload-adaptive by monitoring the current workload and making online decisions w.r.t. data replication. A series of online algorithms are proposed that achieves the bounded worst-case cost in blockchain’s Gas. GRuB runs the decision-making components on the untrusted cloud off-chain for lower Gas costs, and employs a security protocol to authenticate the data transferred between the blockchain and cloud. The overall GRuB system can autonomously achieve low Gas costs with changing workloads.

We built a GRuB prototype functional with Ethereum and Google LevelDB, and supported real applications in stablecoins. Under real workloads collected from the Ethereum contract-call history and mixed workloads of YCSB, we systematically evaluate GRuB’s cost which shows a saving of Gas by 10% ~ 74%, with comparison to the baselines of static data-placement.

Conference paper
In Proceedings of the 21st International Middleware Conference (Middleware ’20)
December 2020
Full Paper, accepted to appear