Turbine Block Propagation

A Solana cluster uses a multi-layer block propagation mechanism called Turbine to broadcast transaction blobs to all nodes with minimal amount of duplicate messages. The cluster divides itself into small collections of nodes, called neighborhoods. Each node is responsible for sharing any data it receives with the other nodes in its neighborhood, as well as propagating the data on to a small set of nodes in other neighborhoods. This way each node only has to communicate with a small number of nodes.

During its slot, the leader node distributes blobs between the validator nodes in the first neighborhood (layer 0). Each validator shares its data within its neighborhood, but also retransmits the blobs to one node in some neighborhoods in the next layer (layer 1). The layer-1 nodes each share their data with their neighborhood peers, and retransmit to nodes in the next layer, etc, until all nodes in the cluster have received all the blobs.

Neighborhood Assignment - Weighted Selection

In order for data plane fanout to work, the entire cluster must agree on how the cluster is divided into neighborhoods. To achieve this, all the recognized validator nodes (the TVU peers) are sorted by stake and stored in a list. This list is then indexed in different ways to figure out neighborhood boundaries and retransmit peers. For example, the leader will simply select the first nodes to make up layer 0. These will automatically be the highest stake holders, allowing the heaviest votes to come back to the leader first. Layer-0 and lower-layer nodes use the same logic to find their neighbors and next layer peers.

To reduce the possibility of attack vectors, each blob is transmitted over a random tree of neighborhoods. Each node uses the same set of nodes representing the cluster. A random tree is generated from the set for each blob using randomness derived from the blob itself. Since the random seed is not known in advance, attacks that try to eclipse neighborhoods from certain leaders or blocks become very difficult, and should require almost complete control of the stake in the cluster.

Layer and Neighborhood Structure

The current leader makes its initial broadcasts to at most DATA_PLANE_FANOUT nodes. If this layer 0 is smaller than the number of nodes in the cluster, then the data plane fanout mechanism adds layers below. Subsequent layers follow these constraints to determine layer-capacity: Each neighborhood contains DATA_PLANE_FANOUT nodes. Layer-0 starts with 1 neighborhood with fanout nodes. The number of nodes in each additional layer grows by a factor of fanout.

As mentioned above, each node in a layer only has to broadcast its blobs to its neighbors and to exactly 1 node in some next-layer neighborhoods, instead of to every TVU peer in the cluster. A good way to think about this is, layer-0 starts with 1 neighborhood with fanout nodes, layer-1 adds "fanout" neighborhoods, each with fanout nodes and layer-2 will have fanout * number of nodes in layer-1 and so on.

This way each node only has to communicate with a maximum of 2 * DATA_PLANE_FANOUT - 1 nodes.

The following diagram shows how the Leader sends blobs with a Fanout of 2 to Neighborhood 0 in Layer 0 and how the nodes in Neighborhood 0 share their data with each other.

Leader sends blobs to Neighborhood 0 in Layer 0

The following diagram shows how Neighborhood 0 fans out to Neighborhoods 1 and 2.

Neighborhood 0 Fanout to Neighborhood 1 and 2

Finally, the following diagram shows a two layer cluster with a Fanout of 2.

Two layer cluster with a Fanout of 2

Configuration Values

DATA_PLANE_FANOUT - Determines the size of layer 0. Subsequent layers grow by a factor of DATA_PLANE_FANOUT. The number of nodes in a neighborhood is equal to the fanout value. Neighborhoods will fill to capacity before new ones are added, i.e if a neighborhood isn't full, it must be the last one.

Currently, configuration is set when the cluster is launched. In the future, these parameters may be hosted on-chain, allowing modification on the fly as the cluster sizes change.


The following diagram shows how two neighborhoods in different layers interact. To cripple a neighborhood, enough nodes (erasure codes +1) from the neighborhood above need to fail. Since each neighborhood receives blobs from multiple nodes in a neighborhood in the upper layer, we'd need a big network failure in the upper layers to end up with incomplete data.

Inner workings of a neighborhood