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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Open-Sources CCF Framework to Improve Blockchain Ledgers Throughput and Latency

Microsoft Open-Sources CCF Framework to Improve Blockchain Ledgers Throughput and Latency

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Microsoft Confidential Consortium Framework (CCF) is an open-source framework aiming to enable the creation of blockchain ledgers that can execute transactions with throughput and latency similar to those of a centralized database, says Microsoft.

Although Microsoft is specifically targeting the blockchain market, CCF is not limited to blockchain applications and supports the creation of generic high-performance, high-scale, multi-party computation applications.

CCF leverages trusted execution environments (TTEs) such as SGX and VSM to bring its most distinguishing features, including high throughput and low latency. In particular, Microsoft is claiming near database speed thanks to an optimized consensus algorithm that relies on a network of remotely attestable secure enclaves.

[Using TTEs] gives a web of trust across the distributed system, allowing a user that verifies a single cryptographic quote from a CCF node to effectively verify the entire network. This simplifies consensus and thus improves transaction speed and latency — all without compromising security or assuming trust.

It is important to understand that the creation of a network of remotely attestable enclaves using TTEs makes sense in a specific scenario of blockchain deployments, called Consortium blockchains, where member and node identities are known and controlled. This is the key to the consensus algorithm simplification that CCF brings: the enclave of each node can decide whether it can trust another node enclave through the mutual exchange of attestation and credentials. This does not mean that the parties that run or own the nodes must trust one another, only that the network and the node enclaves shall be able to decide whether they can trust other node enclaves, i.e., whether these nodes are part of the consortium or not. Interestingly, CCF uses standard ledger transactions for consortium management actions such as adding new members or initiating recovery.

The Consortium blockchain approach is particularly well-suited for use within Microsoft Azure Blockchain Service, aimed at its corporate audience. However, CCF can also be used in public blockchain contexts, where anyone can execute transactions and add nodes to the network.

Other major features of CCF are, according to Microsoft, its ability to support more flexible confidentiality models, enabling control over which authorized parties transactions can be revealed, and improved energy efficiency, thanks to simplified proof-of-work and proof-of-stakes algorithms.

CCF is available on GitHub, where you will also find a thorough technical description along with its general documentation and samples.

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