The research division at cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX recently published a report regarding its testing of the performance of Bitcoin Core by conducting 35 initial block downloads (IBDs) and recording the amount of time the node takes to synchronize with the network. According to the report, the results show a “considerable and consistent improvement in the performance of the software, but also a high degree of variance.”
The team used software releases from the period between 2012 and 2019 and claimed that older versions of Bitcoin struggled to get past the pickup in transaction volume between 2015 and 2016, even with the latest computer hardware.
“We conclude that without the software enhancements, an initial synchronization today could be almost impossible.”
Additionally, BitMEX Research stated that the data illustrated significant scalability enhancements delivered over the past seven years, with the transition to ‘libsecp256k’ being the most significant improvement. It also stated that the large reductions in IBD times, as well as the inability of old nodes to fully synchronize, indicated that if it were not for these scalability enhancements, Bitcoin would essentially be dead by now.
When testing the clients up to their release dates, the data showed a reasonably flat trend between Bitcoin Core versions 0.8.6 to 0.14.0, at which point the scalability improvements were unable to match pace with the impact of time progressing, and the blockchain increasing in height.
“Future scalability improvements may be a lot more challenging, IBD times may continue to increase going forwards, despite further software upgrades and moderate increases in hardware performance.”