Decentralized applications or DApps have emerged as one of the most significant use cases for blockchain technology. Even as the field has witnessed giant strides, there is still a catch. Most DApps run on the Ethereum network which is plagued with a myriad of scalability issues. Be it the network congestion, or skyrocketing transaction fees, the need for an alternative hub for decentralized applications has never been more. Enter Solana.
Solana is a fourth-generation blockchain that utilizes an open framework to offer enhanced scalability. It is essentially an advanced open-source blockchain project that aims to accommodate potentially hundreds and thousands of nodes without giving up on the throughput.
In short, the main objective of Solana is to address one of the biggest challenges with the already existing blockchains, i.e., scalability.
Who created Solana?
Solana was founded in 2017, during the ICO boom. The platform secured well over $25 million across various private and public sale funding rounds.
It all started when founder Anatoly Yakovenko published a whitepaper draft that outlined a new technique for distributed systems dubbed Proof of History [PoH]. The main idea is to eliminate the main limitation in blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which was the time required to reach consensus.
Anatoly collaborated with former Qualcomm colleague Greg Fitzgerald to develop a unique blockchain network in Rust, a multi-paradigm programming language, that leveraged PoH as its “internal clock.”
The first internal testnet and official version of the project’s whitepaper were rolled out in February 2018. Qualcomm veteran, Stephen Akridge soon came on board to eventually form the company – Solana Labs. Initially called the project Loom, the founding team later renamed it to Solana which went to mainnet in March 2020.
How does Solana work?
Unlike traditional consensus systems where nodes must communicate back and forth to set a passage of time, Solana is a vastly different story.
The blockchain protocol is optimized to establish a verifiable passage of time and maintain decentralized aspects without falling back onto a “central clock.”
Solana leverages the Proof-of-History [PoH] consensus method for the purpose of attaching the element of time to its blockchain. PoH is essentially designed to authenticate the passage of time and provide a record of previous events on the blockchain.
This ensures that there is a common record of historical data in a chronological order that is independent of local clocks or timestamps.
To execute this, a network node is designated as the leader. This leader is tasked with sequencing messages efficiently so that they can be processed by other nodes.
The leader node then conducts the transactions on the current state and following which it produces the transactions and the signature of the final state is sent to replicator nodes or validators.
The validators are assigned to settle the same transactions on their copies of the state and publish their signatures after the confirmation is received. The confirmations that are published will act as votes for the consensus algorithm.
The leader on the network is selected by Proof-of-Stake [PoS] voting mechanism. Solana’s PoS system is fortified by the Byzantine Fault Tolerance [BFT] system dubbed as ‘Tower BFT’.
It facilitates distributed networks to reach consensus regardless of attacks from malicious nodes, which are called Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance [PBFT].
Solana’s version of PBFT possesses a global source of time across the blockchain via the Proof of History [PoH] mechanism.
This helps in reaching blockchain consensus by reducing huge messaging overhead as well as transaction latency.
Meanwhile, any validator node is eligible to be chosen as the PoH leader. However, in the event of a failure discovery with the PoH generator, the validator node with the next highest voting power will be elected as the new leader.
Solana’s Turbine protocol facilitates a seamless transmission of data to the blockchain nodes. It does so by splitting the data into miniature packets thereby enabling the blockchain to handle bandwidth while boosting its overall capacity to execute transactions more efficiently.
The Gulf Stream protocol renders the concept of memepool redundant. It plays a crucial role in the network by assisting the validators to execute the transactions ahead of time.
In this way, the protocol not only helps in lowering the confirmation time, and switching leaders faster but also aims in reducing the memory pressure on validators from unconfirmed transaction pools.
Solana also features a hyper-parallelized transaction processing engine called Sealevel, which ramps up horizontally across GPUs and SSD by enabling hundreds and thousands of smart contracts to run simultaneously in parallel without sacrificing the network’s performance.
- Pipelining, on the other hand, is a process where a stream of input data is attributed to different hardware based on its specification. This system in place enables transaction information to be swiftly validated and replicated across all the nodes in the network.
- Cloudbreak helps Solana blockchain to carry out the necessary scalability on the network. Cloudbreak is a data structure that is designed for simultaneous reads and writes across the network.
- Archivers play an important role with respect to distributed ledger storage. The data stored on the Solana blockchain is downloaded by the Archivers, which are basically a network of nodes, from validators.
What makes Solana unique?
Solana has brought about many breakthrough specifications with its new architecture. The groundbreaking feature in the blockchain makes it one of the most innovative layer 1 solutions in the decentralized finance world.
- Solana’s high throughput infrastructure eliminates the bottlenecks currently faced by the Ethereum network in terms of scalability.
- It supports 50,000 transactions per second, thanks to the Gulf Stream protocol. To put this into perspective, the value is almost 1,000x faster than Bitcoin [BTC] and over 3,000x faster than Ethereum [ETH] networks.
- There is no need to wait to reach a global consensus. Instead, Solana streams transactions seamlessly without forgoing the security factor.
- The transmission of smaller data packets helps in lowering memory requirements.
- Unconfirmed transactions are forwarded to the network validators, thus eliminating the need for memepool altogether.
What is SOL coin?
SOL is the native currency of the Solana blockchain. The validators needed to execute and verify transactions are chosen according to the amount of SOL token staked. This is also similar in case of the leaders who deliver PoH sequences.
In short, the nodes that stake the highest in terms of SOL will be picked to validate and add blocks to the blockchain and hence earn incentives for it.
Small SOL holders can also delegate their stakes to a larger validator to earn a portion of the rewards associated with validation to support the Solana network.
This incentive mechanism helps in bolstering the overall security of the Solana network since many holders are financially invested in its proper operation. This, in turn, discourages malicious and bad entities from attacking the blockchain.
The decentralized ecosystem has grown leaps and bounds. Hence the need for efficient technology to accommodate the rapidly growing innovation is even more. Solana displays a new architecture with an efficient PoS mechanism in place.
It has emerged as one of the most advanced functioning blockchains that aims to take on the industry’s core vulnerabilities and incapabilities without sacrificing security.