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How Solana Provides Affordable Daap Scaling

Rahul Ravindran

Solana is well positioned providing the infrastructure to support the four pillars of the metaverse: Web 3.0, Decentralized Crypto Trading, Open Finance and Gaming. Let’s understand how it solves some of the most relevant issues in the current blockchain ecosystem.

Blockchain’s Impossible Triangle

Scalability, Decentralization, and Security are the three most desirable attributes to an ideal blockhain protocol. Ethereum has Decentralization and Security. Whereas BSC has Scalability and Security. Neither solve the full trinity.

Lets look at how solana attempts to cover all requirements of an ideal blockchain protocol and why should you consider looking into this technology

1. Speed

Solana can already handle 65,000 transactions per second (Google receives 63,000 searches per second on any given day).

Solana has the ability to scale to 700,000+ transactions per second with a 1 Gigabit Link. ​On a 40 Gigabit link Solana can scale to 28.5 million TPS! Recent release once again increases transaction throughput by 700%, from 35ktps to 250ktps (with peaks up to 400ktps), over the prior release. A big thanks to @sakridge for his GPU implementation of signature verification, which can verify signatures at 870 thousand signatures per second, roughly 20% faster than what’s required for a gigabit network at full-throttle. While we applaud Stephen’s efforts, the team is now heartbroken that we won’t be able to 7x throughput again until we move to a 40 gigabit network.

2. Enterprise grade security

Generating a reverse order would require an attacker to start the malicious sequence after the second event. This delay should allow any non malicious peer to peer nodes to communicate about the original order. Solana uses SHA-256 (Similar to Bitcoin). Audited by a Fortune 500-preferred security firm. Iron-clad immutability for global scale.

PoH provides a natural defense against long range attacks. Recovering the ledger from any point in the past would require the attacker to overtake the valid ledger in time by outpacing the speed of the PoH generator. The consensus protocol provides a second layer of defense, as any attack would have to take longer then the time it takes to unstake all the valid validators. It also creates an availability gap in the history of the ledger. When comparing two ledgers of the same height, the one with the smallest maximum partition can be objectively considered as valid.

3. Low transaction fees

We’re looking at less than $0.001 per transaction!


Core Innovations In Solana:

Proof of History (PoH) : A clock before consensus

Solana’s PoH consensus algorithm helps to create more efficiency and higher throughput rate within the Solana network. So by having historical records of events or transactions, it allows the system to more easily track transactions and keep track of the ordering of the events.

Think about it as a cryptographic clock that gives a timestamp to every transaction in the network along with the data structure, which can be a simple append of data.

PoH relies on Proof of Stake, using the Tower BFT algorithm for consensus, which functions like an additional tool to verify transactions. At its core, PoH is a high-frequency Verifiable Delay Function (VDF).

A VDF is a triple function (Setup, Evaluation, Verification) to produce a unique and trustable output. It maintains order in the network by proving block producers have waited a sufficient amount of time so the network can move forward.

In Solana’s case, it uses SHA256 (Secure Hash Algorithm 256-bit) – a set of patented cryptographic functions that outputs a value 256 bits long (which is also the one Bitcoin uses). The Solana network periodically samples the count and hashes of the SHA256, providing real-time data instructed by the set of hashes included on CPUs.

Validators can use this sequence of hashes to record a specific piece of data created before a particular hash index is generated. The timestamp for transactions is generated once this piece of data is inserted.

Solana claims to reach a throughput of 65,000 TPS, with an average block time of 400 milliseconds and an average transaction fee of 0.000005 SOL (Solana’s native token). To achieve these numbers, all validators on the network have a cryptographic clock to keep track of events instead of waiting for other nodes to verify transactions.

Tower BFT : PoH-optimized version of PBFT (Practical Byzantine Fault Toleration)

Tower BFT is a PBFT-like conesus algorithm that is made to take advantage of the synchronized clock. The Tower BFT uses the PoH as its cryptographic clock which allows consensus to be reached without having to incur massive messaging overhead and transaction latency.

Turbine : A block propagation protocol

The Turbine protocol makes it easier to transmit data to the blockchain nodes. Turbine is able to do this by breaking the data into smaller packets. This allows Solana to address issues of bandwidth and also increase its overall capacity to settle transactions faster.

Gulf Stream : Mempool-less transaction forwarding protocol

The Gulf Stream protocol plays an important role pushing transaction caching and forwarding it to the edge of the network. This allows the validators to execute the transactions ahead of time, reducing confirmation time, faster leader switching, and reduced memory pressure on validators from unconfirmed transaction pools. So this protocol is what allows Solana to support 50k TPS.

Sealevel: Parallel smart contracts run-time

Sealevel is a hyper parallelized transaction processing engine that is used to scale horizontally across GPUs and SSDs. With this system in place, it allows Solana to obtain a more efficient runtime and also allow transactions to run concurrently on the same state blockchains.

Pipeline: A Transaction Processing Unit for validation optimization

Pipelining is a process where a stream of input data assigns to different hardwares responsible for it. So this mechanism allows transaction information to be quickly validated and replicated across all the nodes in the network.

Cloudbreak: Horizontally-Scaled Accounts Database

To achieve the necessary scalability on the Solana network, it requires the use of Cloudbreak. Cloudbreak is a data structure that is optimal for concurrent reads and writes across the network.

Archivers: A Distributed ledger storage

We use Archivers for data storage. Data on Solana offloads from validators to a network of nodes known as Archivers. These nodes can be lightweight (ex: laptops) and they will be subject to a check, every so often, to ensure they are storing the right data.


Popular Dapps built on Solana

Metaplex (NFT)

Metaplex is a Solana-powered protocol that allows for the creation and minting of non-fungible tokens, auctions, and visualizing NFTs in a standard way across wallets and applications, comprised of two core components: an on-chain program, and a self-hosted front-end web2 application.

Audius

Audius is the latest project to move over to Solana and has been growing rapidly, now with over 1 million monthly listeners. However, as their active users have increased, so have the gas fees and load times. Audius is creating a fully decentralized community of artists, developers, and listeners collaborating to share and defend the world’s music.

Conclusion

Solana efficiently solves some of the major problems faced by the blockchain developers while scaling their Dapps and is definitely one of the technologies you should look out for!

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