What Is Hip 19 Helium? Helium Network HeliumMart Reducing XOR Filter Fees
Since Helium is a community-driven project, there are constantly a lot of ideas for changes and improvements. They are organized in HIPs (Helium Improvement Proposals) which are discussed and voted by community members.
Currently voting is underway for HIP 59 which is for reducing XOR filter fees. XOR filters allow the Console backend to process only known traffic and avoid using resources on unfamiliar traffic. This is used to significantly improve the performance as the network usage increases and more devices are joining.
When new devices first join the Helium network, their keys are added to the blockchain and the update takes about 20 minutes. The XOR filters are a great way to optimize performance, but they have their drawbacks, mainly their fees. This is where HIP 59 comes in with the idea to change this.
HIP 59’s proposal
As with all HIPs, they are published on GitHub. All of the details and any additional code for each HIP are there along with the ability to comment and discuss the changes (another channel for that is on Helium’s Discord). Right now operating a Router can be expensive, especially as the number of connected devices increases. The proposal says:
“XOR filter fees are operational costs related to maintaining OUIs on the blockchain. With the current implementation these fees can become a big part of the cost of running a Router instance, the core developers have identified a way to reduce those costs which benefit anyone who chooses to host an Router instance.”
So, in order to change this, the HIP author adds:
“On the Helium blockchain, fees are calculated based on the byte_size of the transaction. XOR filter fees are operational costs related to maintaining OUIs on the blockchain. With the current implementation as more devices get added to the filter, it grows. Meaning that any update is calculated based on the full size of the filter. This can increase the cost of an XOR filter update to tens of thousands of Data Credits (DC). This is not sustainable as the network grows.”
So, HIP 59 proses “to not account for the full size of the XOR filter every time but only the difference compared to the previous update. For example: if the previous XOR had a size of 100 bytes and the update is 110 bytes then fees would be calculated on the difference: (110 – 100 = 10) 10 bytes.”
The goal is to help motivate Helium community organization to continue hosting Router and Console instances. As the fees are reduced, this will allow for more updates to XOR filters and will also encourage more usage on the network.
What will happen if HIP 59 is accepted
Regular Helium users and hotspot miner owners will not see any changes in their operations or devices. Console and/or Router open-source operators will see a reduction of the size of XOR filters. The associated blockchain fees will also decrease. Normal Console end users won’t see a measurable impact. Also, the fixed baseline fee for each update will remain unchanged.
The authors of HIP 59 also say the main benefit will be an overall increase in the commercial viability for community members to host a Console/Router instance. Only the difference of the XOR filter will be calculated, instead of paying the entire amount each time. The authors also say there are no significant drawbacks of the change that they can see or measure.
This is a very niche HIP which focuses on a specific area of the Helium Network infrastructure. The benefits though can be for everyone as the more optimized and improved is each area, the better overall performance will be achieved for the entire network.
You can track the HIP 59 vote here (and you can also vote within the specific time given). As of the time of the writing, it seems it will be accepted with an overwhelming majority. Of course, even if it is approved, it will take time to be actually deployed, but it is a step in the right direction.