Arweave is a decentralized storage network that aims to provide scalable, cost-effective, and permanent data storage. The network is based on several technologies, including Blockweave, Proof of Access, and Wildfire.
What is Blockweave?
Blockweave is a weave-structured blockchain specifically designed for the Arweave. Similar to linear blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, Blockweave is used to contain data, links to multiple previous blocks from the network, etc. However, each block on the Arweave network is linked to the previous block and a random recall block, rather than ordered in a time series, creating a weave structure.
Unlike traditional blockchains, Blockweave does not require miners to be full nodes (maintain a copy of the entire blockchain in order to verify future transactions). It asks each miner to keep two lists:
- Block hash list, a list of the hashes of all previous blocks.
- Wallet list, a list of all active wallets in the system.
The two lists will be generated and updated to the network every 12 blocks (around an hour). Therefore, when a new block is generated, the validators only need to verify that the transaction has been appropriately signed by the wallet owner's private key, instead of tracing all of the transaction histories.
What is Proof of Access?
Proof of Access is the consensus mechanism of Arweave, which is a derivative of PoW (Proof of Works).
As mentioned above, in order to improve the chain performance and avoid overly data storage, the miners on Arweave do not store all of the data and transactions on-chain. However, the data needs to be appropriately replicated among miners to ensure the security and accessibility of the data. Thus, except for the previous block, Arweave also asks the miner to conclude the recall block to generate a new block. The detailed block generation process is shown below. As miners prove that they have access to a random recall block, this process is called Proof of Access.
The Arweave mechanism will also encourage miners to store blocks that are replicated less frequently to keep the network secure.
What is Wildfire?
Wildfire is a ranking system. The miners on the Arweave network will be ranked by how quickly they respond to requests and accept data from others. And Wildfire will distribute requests and transactions to miners according to rank. Therefore, miners with better responses get more rewards. This could improve the network efficiency as well.
What is Permaweb?
Permaweb refers to the application layer on the top of Arweave network. They may look like normal websites, but the content on the Permaweb is stored on Arweave network permanently. Here we list some applications built on Arweave:
- Ardrive: a data storage platform.
- CommunityXYZ: a dashboard and governance platform for profit sharing communities.
- Verto: a decentralized trading protocol built on Arweave.
$AR is the utility token of Arweave. All the fees within the Arweave network are paid in $AR, such as the fees for data storage and retrieving, interacting with DApps, etc. Users who wish to store data on the Arweave blockchain must use $AR to pay for distributed data storage. Also, computers on the network that offer storage services must accept their incentives in $AR tokens only.