Ekiden: A Platform for Confidentiality-Preserving, Trustworthy, and Performant Smart Contract Execution

04/14/2018 ∙ by Raymond Cheng, et al. ∙ 0

Smart contracts are applications that execute on blockchains. Today they manage billions of dollars in value and motivate visionary plans for pervasive blockchain deployment. While smart contracts inherit the availability and other security assurances of blockchains, however, they are impeded by blockchains' lack of confidentiality and poor performance. We present Ekiden, a system that addresses these critical gaps by combining blockchains with Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs), such as Intel SGX. Capable of operating on any desired blockchain, Ekiden permits concurrent, off-chain execution of smart contracts within TEE-backed compute nodes, yielding high performance, low cost, and confidentiality for sensitive data. Ekiden enforces a strong set of security and availability properties. By maintaining on-chain state, it achieves consistency, meaning a single authoritative sequence of state transitions, and availability, meaning contracts can survive the failure of compute nodes. Ekiden is anchored in a formal security model expressed as an ideal functionality. We prove the security of the corresponding implemented protocol in the UC framework. Our implementation of Ekiden supports contract development in Rust and the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). We present experiments for applications including machine learning models, poker, and cryptocurrency tokens. Ekiden is designed to support multiple underlying blockchains. When building on top of Tendermint for consensus, we obtain example performance of 600x more throughput and 400x less latency at 1000x less cost than on the Ethereum mainnet. When used with Ethereum as the backing blockchain, Ekiden still costs less than on-chain execution and supports contract confidentiality.

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