A scalable blockchain aimed at global adoption
Solana is an open-source project implementing a new permissionless blockchain able to achieve 50,000 transactions per second. Founded by former Qualcomm, Intel, and Dropbox engineers, Solana is aiming to capitalize on Ethereum’s gas fee woes and significantly speed up transactions and reduce fees whilst still maintaining a truly decentralized vision.
The Solana platform was established back in 2017 by Anatoly Yakovenko. Yakovenko worked at Qualcomm before founding Solana and brings a wide range of experience with compression algorithms. Before that, he worked at Dropbox as a software engineer. Accompanying him are Eric Williams and Solana’s CTO, Greg Fitzgerald. They have created a new process of dealing with traditional throughput problems that existed in the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains.
To put the figure of 50,000 transactions per second given by Solana into perspective. Proof of work systems like Bitcoin and Ethereum support about 10 transactions per second. Proof of stake systems like Tendermint support about 1,000 transactions per second.
How it works
Up to now, blockchains have mostly made sacrifices to achieve their desired outcome. Choosing between scale, security, and decentralization. Solana claims to have solved it, employing a new consensus algorithm able to achieve fast transaction times without sacrificing security and decentralization and without sharding.
The Proof of History (PoH) system is implemented using a mechanism that originated in the Bitcoin source code, called nLocktime. Without going into the deeper technical aspects, nLocktime post-dates transactions using block height or size rather than timestamping and through research became a cryptographically secure way to record time passing.
The entire process is aimed at creating a replicating database that maintains a high level of availability without compromising the transaction rate.
Who’s it built for
Solana’s stated mission is to support all high-growth and high-frequency blockchain applications (dapps) and to democratize the world’s financial systems. At its core, Solana offers
scalability to dapps and is capable of supporting over 50,000 transactions per second. Furthermore, transaction costs on the network are estimated to cost approximately $10 for 1 million transactions.
Based on these aspects it would be fair to say that Solana is set up to deal with the majority of decentralized applications tracked by DappRadar from across various categories such as DeFi, Gaming, and NFTs.
Recent activity from Solana more clearly shows their intentions as they announced a DeFi hackathon offering a $200,000 prize pool and $200,000 in seed funding to developers. The hackathon is being hosted in partnership with Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX’s Project Serum.
For developers, Solana offers a range of features making it a desirable option to build on. Looking past the promised faster and cheaper transactions, developers can code in C, C++, Rust, and more languages. On top of that, there’s an ambitious roadmap of virtual machine integrations lined up.
Solana even invites you to try and break the network they are so confident in. Asking people to test the 50k transactions per the second statement by stress-testing the network. Further information for developers about funding and getting started on Solana is linked at the end of this article.
End-users of the applications on Solana should be able to enjoy fast and well-priced transactions with full interoperability with other blockchains such as Ethereum. Solana is currently live but is very early days, the block explorer gives an insight into the current activity on one of the most active applications Serum and Solana overall.
Solana solves many historical problems associated with older blockchain technology experiences and presents a new structure for verifying transactions delivered through a more efficient consensus algorithm. We envisage the platform being a strong competitor and something to look out for as it continues to develop throughout 2021.