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Re: Encoding for Robust Immutable Storage (ERIS)

From: pukkamustard
Subject: Re: Encoding for Robust Immutable Storage (ERIS)
Date: Mon, 07 Dec 2020 18:12:59 +0100
User-agent: mu4e 1.4.13; emacs 27.1

Hello Christian,
Hello GNUnet,

Thanks again for the extremely valuable feedback on the initial version
of ERIS.

I'd like to request feedback on a second version of the encoding: ERIS

The major change compared to the initial version from June: It is
basically ECRS.

I have become convinced that the functionality offered by the
"verification capability" - verify the integrity of all blocks without being able to decode content - can be implemented with a synchronization algorithm for blocks. Removing the verification capability from the encoding itself simplifies the encoding and increases performance of
encoding process.

The differences to ECRS are (see also

- Use Blake2b/ChaCha20 and allow a "convergence secret"
- Block size: ERIS allows block size of either 1 KiB or 32 KiB. The variety of use-cases (file sharing vs. robust storage of tiny pieces of data) seem to make this necessary. For both use cases this seems
 better than the 4 KiB compromise.
- URN: A URN is defined independent of applications using the encoding. - No namespace mechanism: This can be implemented with things such as GNS.

Other reasons for not just referring to the ECRS paper:

- Concise specification of the encoding. E.g. the ECRS paper does not
 define cryptographic primitives used or URN.
- Include test vectors

The hope is that a wide variety of applications can use ERIS encoded content over a variety of transport and storage layers. Some third-party
implementations (not by me) are already starting to pop up

I'd be very happy for your insight, feedback and opinions on whether
ERIS might find a place in the GNUNet filesharing application.


Christian Grothoff <> writes:

On 7/26/20 7:28 PM, pukkamustard wrote:

Hello Christian,

Thank you for your comments!

For my taste, the block size is much too small. I understand 4k can make sense for page tables and SATA, but looking at benchmarks 4k is still too small to maximize SATA throughput. I would also worry about 4k for a request size in any database or network protocol. The overheads per request are still too big for modern hardware. You could easily go to 8k, which could be justified with 9k jumbo frames for Ethernet and would at least also utilitze all of the bits in your paths. The 32k of ECRS are close to the 64k which are reportedly the optimum for modern M.2
media. IIRC Torrents even use 256k.

I agree that increasing block size makes sense for improving performance
in storage and transport.

The overhead from padding may be
large for very small files if you go beyond 4k, but you should also think in terms of absolute overhead: even a 3100% overhead doesn't change the fact that the absolute overhead is tiny for a 1k file.

The use-case I have in mind for ERIS is very small pieces of data (not
even small files). Examples include ActivityStreams objects or
OpenStreetMaps nodes.

Ah, that's a different use case then file-sharing, so different
trade-offs certainly apply here.

Apparently the average size of individual ActivityStreams objects is less than 1kB (unfortunately I don't have the data to back this up).

I agree that the overhead of 3100% for a single 1kB object is
acceptable. But I would argue that an overhead of 3100% for very many 1kB objects is not. The difference might be a 32 GB database instead of
a 1 GB database.

Sure, the only question is if it might not in this case make sense to combine the tiny objects into larger ones, like merging all OSM nodes in a region into one larger download. But of course, it again depends on
the use case you are shooting for.

Furthermore, you should consider a trick we use in GNUnet-FS, which is that we share *directories*, and for small files, we simply _inline_ the full file data in the meta data of the file that is stored with the directory or search result. So you can basically avoid having to ever download tiny files as separate entities, so for files <32k we have zero
overhead this way.

That makes a lot of sense.

But packing multiple objects into a single transport packet or grouping for storage on disk/in database works for small block sizes as well. The
optimization just happens at a "different layer".

The key value I see in having small block sizes is that tiny pieces of
data can be individually referenced and used (securely).

Sure, if that's your only use case, 4k could make sense.

I'd be curious to see how much the two pass encoding costs in practice -- it might be less expensive than ECRS if you are lucky (hashing one big block being cheaper than many small hash operations), or much more expensive if you are unlucky (have to actually read the data twice from disk). I am not sure that it is worth it merely to reduce the number of hashes/keys in the non-data blocks. Would be good to have some data on this, for various file sizes and platforms (to judge IO/RAM caching effects). As I said, I can't tell for sure if the 2nd pass is virtually free or quite expensive -- and that is an important detail. Especially with a larger block size, the overhead of an extra key in the non-data
blocks could be quite acceptable.

I think the cost of the two-pass encoding in ERIS is quite expensive. Considering that the hash of the individual blocks also needs to be computed (as reference in parent nodes), I think ECRS will always win
performance wise.

Maybe the answer is not ECRS or ERIS but ECRS and ERIS. ECRS for large pieces of data, where it makes more sense to have large block size and single-pass encoding. And ERIS for (very many) small pieces of data where a 3100% overhead is too much but the performance penalty is
acceptable and size of data is much smaller than memory.

There might be some heuristic that says: If data is larger than 2MB use
ECRS, else use ERIS and you get the verification capability.

If using ECRS, you can add the verification capability by encoding a list of all the hash references to the ECRS block with ERIS. The ERIS read capability of this list of ECRS block is enough to verify the integrity of the original ECRS encoded content (without revealing the

What do you think?

I don't know how important the verification capability is in practice, or how much the block size trade-offs are relevant (vs. grouping tiny objects into larger ones). If we can avoid proliferating encodings and find one that fits all important use cases, that would be ideal. I would not be _opposed_ to adopting ERIS in GNUnet (even considering the possible increase in encoding cost), _except_ for the tiny block size
(which I know would be terrible for our use-case).

For 3.4 Namespaces, I would urge you to look at the GNU Name System (GNS). My plan is to (eventually, when I have way too much time and could actually re-do FS...) replace SBLOCKS and KBLOCKS of ECRS with
basically only GNS.

I have been looking into it. It does seem to be a perfect application of

The crypto is way above my head and using readily available and already implemented primitives would make implementation much easier for me. But I understand the need for "non-standard" crypto and am following the
ongoing discussions.

Great. Feel free to chime in or ask questions. Right now, we're hoping to find the time to update the draft based on the feedback already
received, but of course constructive feedback is always welcome.



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