Paper 2017/179

REM: Resource-Efficient Mining for Blockchains

Fan Zhang, Ittay Eyal, Robert Escriva, Ari Juels, and Robbert van Renesse


Blockchains show promise as potential infrastructure for financial transaction systems. The security of blockchains today, however, relies critically on Proof-of-Work (PoW), which forces participants to waste computational resources. We present REM (Resource-Efficient Mining), a new blockchain mining framework that uses trusted hardware (Intel SGX). REM achieves security guarantees similar to PoW, but leverages the partially decentralized trust model inherent in SGX to achieve a fraction of the waste of PoW. Its key idea, Proof-of-Useful-Work (PoUW), involves miners providing trustworthy reporting on CPU cycles they devote to inherently useful workloads. REM flexibly allows any entity to create a useful workload. REM ensures the trustworthiness of these workloads by means of a novel scheme of hierarchical attestations that may be of independent interest. To address the risk of compromised SGX CPUs, we develop a statistics-based formal security framework, also relevant to other trusted-hardware-based approaches such as Intel's Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET). We show through economic analysis that REM achieves less waste than PoET and variant schemes. We implement REM and, as an example application, swap it into the consensus layer of Bitcoin core. The result is the first full implementation of an SGX-based blockchain. We experiment with four example applications as useful workloads for our implementation of REM, and report a computational overhead of $5-15\%$.

Note: Removed symbols from the title hoping to fix indexing issues of Google Scholar

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Publication info
Published elsewhere. MINOR revision.USENIX Security 2017
Intel SGXtrusted hardwareblockchainconsensus
Contact author(s)
fz84 @ cornell edu
certchainverified @ gmail com
2022-03-25: last of 5 revisions
2017-02-27: received
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      author = {Fan Zhang and Ittay Eyal and Robert Escriva and Ari Juels and Robbert van Renesse},
      title = {REM: Resource-Efficient Mining for Blockchains},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2017/179},
      year = {2017},
      doi = {10.5555/3241189.3241300},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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