TBFT: Understandable and Efficient Byzantine Fault Tolerance using Trusted Execution Environment

Jiashuo Zhang, Jianbo Gao, Ke Wang, Zhenhao Wu, Ying Lan, Zhi Guan, Zhong Chen

After decades of research, traditional BFT protocols have achieved nearly optimal performance improvements. However, they still cannot meet the rapidly increasing performance and scalability requirements of distributed systems, especially blockchain. Fortunately, the development of trusted execution environments brings new opportunities. Utilizing TEE, BFT protocols can achieve significant improvements, e.g., reduce the minimum number of replicas from 3f+1 to 2f+1. There have been several TEE-based BFT protocols. They generally share a common BFT-driven design pattern, i.e., to limit byzantine behaviors of replicas using TEE. However, while TEE solves some security issues, it also introduces new security issues. With this confusing design pattern, a protocol need not only tolerate arbitrary byzantine faults(which is already hard enough) but also handle those new security issues. Consequently, those protocols are complex and difficult to understand. With this drawback, those protocols have hardly been applied to real distributed systems. We start from a different question, i.e., what are the key differences between TEE-based BFT and Crash Fault Tolerance(CFT). We revisit CFT and propose four principles to help bridge the gap between TEE-based BFT and CFT. Based on these principles, we propose a novel TEE-based BFT protocol called TBFT. With inspirations from CFT, TBFT is more understandable and simpler compared to previous protocols. With a solid foundation provided by existing CFT protocols, TBFT has more opportunities to be applied to a practical system. Besides, We make comprehensive improvements to TBFT for both performance and security. Our evaluation shows that TBFT has better performance and scalability compared to previous protocols.

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