27 January 2022
The Solana Foundation is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and maintains the open-source project. Solana’s founder Anatoly Yakovenko first conceived of the project and the key elements of its technology approach in late 2017. An internal test net of the Solana network and the official whitepaper were released in early 2018. Solana Labs, the development company behind Solana, raised a series of financing rounds from 2018 to early 2020. The Mainnet Beta version of the Solana software protocol was launched in March 2020.
Solana is a third-generation, Proof of Stake blockchain. It has implemented a unique way of creating a trustless system for determining the time of a transaction called Proof of History.
The Solana network is designed to provide developers with a highly performant Web 3.0 cloud platform that offers scalability at the Layer 1 blockchain level. This approach aims to remove the complexities of Ethereum’s Layer 2 solutions by optimizing for speed, cost, and decentralization, from a political and geographic standpoint. Specifically, these features quantify to:
Speed: 400 millisecond block times
Cost: 0.000005 SOL (~$0.001) per transaction.
Decentralization: 2,242 global nodes
Solana can achieve this level of performance by leveraging a unique architectural approach that has eight core innovations and by optimizing for a different set of technology trade-offs.
Proof of History is a series of computations that can supply a way to verify the passage of time between two events. It uses a crypto secure function written so that output cannot be forecasted from the input, and must be executed to generate the output. The function is run in a sequence on a single core, its previous output as the current input, periodically recording the current output, and how many times it’s been called.
The output can then be re-computed and verified by external computers in parallel by checking each sequence segment on a separate core. Data can be timestamped into this sequence by appending the data (or a hash of some data) into the state of the function.
The recording of the state, index, and data as it was appended into the sequences provides a timestamp that can guarantee that the data was created sometime before the next hash was generated in the sequence. This design also supports horizontal scaling as multiple generators can synchronize amongst each other by mixing their state into each other’s sequences.
Solana blockchain has the capability of supporting over 50 000 transactions per second (TPS) at peak load, which makes it arguably the fastest blockchain in function today. It is almost 1000 times faster than Bitcoin (~ 5-7 TPS) and over 3000 times faster than Ethereum (~ 15 TPS). Moreover, the average block time is between 400 and 800 milliseconds, and the average transaction fee is 0,000005 SOL.
This, combined with its tremendous scalability, makes it suitable for serving decentralized applications that can potentially support tens of thousands of concurrent users without sagging under load.
To create a decentralized, permissionless network that matches the performance of a single node, the Solana team developed 8 key technologies:
Proof of History (POH) — a clock before consensus;
Tower BFT — a PoH-optimized version of PBFT;
Turbine — a block propagation protocol;
Gulf Stream — Mempool-less transaction forwarding protocol;
Sealevel — Parallel smart contracts run-time;
Pipelining — a Transaction Processing Unit for validation optimization
Cloudbreak — Horizontally-Scaled Accounts Database; and
Archivers — Distributed ledger storage
SOL is the native token of the Solana blockchain. Solana uses a delegated Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm that incentivizes token holders to validate transactions. As part of Solana's security design, all fees will be paid in SOL and will be burnt, reducing total supply. This deflationary mechanism to SOL supply incentivizes more token holders to stake, which results in increased network security.
SOL is used for:
1) Staking: Solana is in the process of enabling inflation rewards for staking the SOL token in exchange for powering and supporting the network.
2) Transaction fees: users can use the SOL token to pay for simple token transactions and smart-contract executions on the network.
3) Governance: the SOL token will be used in governance voting in the future.
You can store SOL tokens on the sollet.io crypto wallet (developed by Serum Academy), Trust Wallet for mobile devices, and other SPL-supporting wallets. If you wish to stake your SOL, you will need to use a wallet that supports staking.
Solana has managed to build a large and fast-growing community of users. The most popular Solana wallet, Phantom, has seen Monthly Active Users (MAUs) grow from 200,000 in August 2021 to 1.2 million in October 2021. Comparing Phantom to the most popular Ethereum wallet, Metamask, Solana user growth is roughly where Ethereum was in October 2020.
Crypto networks like Solana are platforms for the next era of the web and wave of the cloud. Web 3.0 dApps are providing novel benefits and seeing strong consumer demand. However, many of the leading blockchain cloud computing platforms today are slow and expensive to use or require complex additional scaling solutions. This dynamic has limited mass adoption for many parts of the crypto economy.
Solana takes a unique technology approach that optimizes trade-offs to prioritize for high scalability, making Solana transactions faster and cheaper than many other networks. Solana has gained a large, fast-growing active user base, developer community, and dApp ecosystem, which has been fueling the network’s rapid growth. The Web 2.0 cloud computing market is a $350 billion annual revenue and $4.6 trillion market value opportunity and Solana has positioned itself as a leading Web 3.0 challenger that is already beginning to take market share.
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