After a block reaches finality, all blocks from that one on down to the genesis block form a linear chain with the familiar name blockchain. Until that point, however, the validator must maintain all potentially valid chains, called forks. The process by which forks naturally form as a result of leader rotation is described in fork generation. The blockstore data structure described here is how a validator copes with those forks until blocks are finalized.
The blockstore allows a validator to record every shred it observes on the network, in any order, as long as the shred is signed by the expected leader for a given slot.
Shreds are moved to a fork-able key space the tuple of
leader slot +
shred index (within the slot). This permits the skip-list structure of the Solana protocol to be stored in its entirety, without a-priori choosing which fork to follow, which Entries to persist or when to persist them.
Repair requests for recent shreds are served out of RAM or recent files and out of deeper storage for less recent shreds, as implemented by the store backing Blockstore.
Persistence: the Blockstore lives in the front of the nodes verification
pipeline, right behind network receive and signature verification. If the
shred received is consistent with the leader schedule (i.e. was signed by the
leader for the indicated slot), it is immediately stored.
Repair: repair is the same as window repair above, but able to serve any
shred that's been received. Blockstore stores shreds with signatures,
preserving the chain of origination.
Forks: Blockstore supports random access of shreds, so can support a
validator's need to rollback and replay from a Bank checkpoint.
Restart: with proper pruning/culling, the Blockstore can be replayed by
ordered enumeration of entries from slot 0. The logic of the replay stage
(i.e. dealing with forks) will have to be used for the most recent entries in
Entries in the Blockstore are stored as key-value pairs, where the key is the concatenated slot index and shred index for an entry, and the value is the entry data. Note shred indexes are zero-based for each slot (i.e. they're slot-relative).
The Blockstore maintains metadata for each slot, in the
SlotMeta struct containing:
slot_index - The index of this slot
num_blocks - The number of blocks in the slot (used for chaining to a previous slot)
consumed - The highest shred index
n, such that for all
m < n, there exists a shred in this slot with shred index equal to
n (i.e. the highest consecutive shred index).
received - The highest received shred index for the slot
next_slots - A list of future slots this slot could chain to. Used when rebuilding
the ledger to find possible fork points.
last_index - The index of the shred that is flagged as the last shred for this slot. This flag on a shred will be set by the leader for a slot when they are transmitting the last shred for a slot.
is_rooted - True iff every block from 0...slot forms a full sequence without any holes. We can derive is_rooted for each slot with the following rules. Let slot(n) be the slot with index
n, and slot(n).is_full() is true if the slot with index
n has all the ticks expected for that slot. Let is_rooted(n) be the statement that "the slot(n).is_rooted is true". Then:
is_rooted(0) is_rooted(n+1) iff (is_rooted(n) and slot(n).is_full()
Chaining - When a shred for a new slot
x arrives, we check the number of blocks (
num_blocks) for that new slot (this information is encoded in the shred). We then know that this new slot chains to slot
x - num_blocks.
Subscriptions - The Blockstore records a set of slots that have been "subscribed" to. This means entries that chain to these slots will be sent on the Blockstore channel for consumption by the ReplayStage. See the
Blockstore APIs for details.
Update notifications - The Blockstore notifies listeners when slot(n).is_rooted is flipped from false to true for any
The Blockstore offers a subscription based API that ReplayStage uses to ask for entries it's interested in. The entries will be sent on a channel exposed by the Blockstore. These subscription API's are as follows: 1.
fn get_slots_since(slot_indexes: &[u64]) -> Vec<SlotMeta>: Returns new slots connecting to any element of the list
fn get_slot_entries(slot_index: u64, entry_start_index: usize, max_entries: Option<u64>) -> Vec<Entry>: Returns the entry vector for the slot starting with
entry_start_index, capping the result at
max_entries == Some(max), otherwise, no upper limit on the length of the return vector is imposed.
Note: Cumulatively, this means that the replay stage will now have to know when a slot is finished, and subscribe to the next slot it's interested in to get the next set of entries. Previously, the burden of chaining slots fell on the Blockstore.
The bank exposes to replay stage:
prev_hash: which PoH chain it's working on as indicated by the hash of the last
entry it processed
tick_height: the ticks in the PoH chain currently being verified by this
votes: a stack of records that contain: 1.
prev_hashes: what anything after this vote must chain to in PoH 2.
tick_height: the tick height at which this vote was cast 3.
lockout period: how long a chain must be observed to be in the ledger to
be able to be chained below this vote
Replay stage uses Blockstore APIs to find the longest chain of entries it can hang off a previous vote. If that chain of entries does not hang off the latest vote, the replay stage rolls back the bank to that vote and replays the chain from there.
Once Blockstore entries are old enough, representing all the possible forks becomes less useful, perhaps even problematic for replay upon restart. Once a validator's votes have reached max lockout, however, any Blockstore contents that are not on the PoH chain for that vote for can be pruned, expunged.
Archiver nodes will be responsible for storing really old ledger contents, and validators need only persist their bank periodically.