Solana is an open source project implementing a high-performance, permissionless blockchain that “currently support[s] 50-65k transactions per second and 400ms block times with 50 nodes on its public testnet. It is specifically built to scale transaction throughput without sacrificing decentralization or security.” The core Solana innovation is Proof of History (POH), a globally-available, permissionless source of time in the network that works before consensus.
Solana uses a new approach to establish the order of blocks called Proof of History (PoH). Proof of History is not a consensus mechanism in itself; it is a strategy to improve the scalability of the blockchain. PoH enables a consensus mechanism in which block production “leaders” continue to rotate regardless of network conditions and without the need to communicate with one another.
With PoH, leader nodes put a timestamp on a block using a cryptographic proof. This timestamp shows how long it has been since the last proof was performed. All data within that proof can be considered to have been generated before the proof, and therefore it represents an accurate order for the blocks. Validator nodes then verify these proofs. The blocks can arrive at the validators in any order because the timestamp in the proof allows the validators to identify the correct order. Because of this process, Solana can break blocks into smaller batches of transactions called “entries.” Entries are streamed to validators in real time, without concern for block consensus.
This process is profoundly different from every other blockchain in which block producers (validators) must communicate with each other to produce blocks and synchronize the state of the network. Solana side-steps this communication requirement and, therefore, can produce blocks much faster: the key to handling more transactions as the network scales.
“The Solana team has been ruthlessly executing against their roadmap over the past few months and it’s truly impressive! We’re looking forward to the high transaction chain and new products and services it will unlock for the future of blockchain technology” —Joe Lallouz, CEO of Bison Trails
In addition to PoH, the Solana team has developed 7 additional technologies:
“Solana is taking the most conservative approach to scaling by focusing on what we know works: a single shard that is globally accessible.”—Anatoly Yakovenko, Solana’s founder and CEO
The main participants in Solana’s network economy are validation-clients and archival-clients. Enabled by Proof of History (POH), validator leaders rotate as the network makes progress, regardless of network conditions. Validator nodes, upon receiving the leader's broadcast, have the opportunity to vote on the current state and PoH height by signing a transaction into the PoH stream.
Data storage is offloaded from validators to a network of nodes called Archivers. The history of the state is broken into many pieces, erasure coded, and stored on them. Every so often, the network will ask the Archivers to prove that they’re storing the data. Archiver nodes, which do not participate in consensus, use PoH to generate lightweight proofs showing pieces of the ledger have been replicated, and validators are able to verify them in very large batches across GPUs.
Validators earn a stake weighted reward for verifying proofs. It's estimated that Archivers will earn a smaller portion of the overall inflation rewards based on the number of successful submitted proofs.
To become a Solana validator, a fullnode must deposit, or lock-up, a predetermined amount of SOL in a contract. This SOL will not be accessible for a specific period of time, divided into three phases.
Solana has also recently integrated with Coinbase Custody, TrustWallet, and Ledger. The team is working on integrations with other wallet providers for ease of onboarding. They’ve announced partnerships with Chainlink (decentralized data oracle), DDEX (the largest decentralized exchange in China), Akash Network (marketplace for unused compute cycles), and Hummingbot (decentralized liquidity provider).
If you’re a Solana token holder, you can run your own validators or delegate to the Bison Trails validator at mainnet launch. As additional features like archiver clients and storage rent come online, Bison Trails customers will be able to run additional infrastructure to support the network and earn participatory rewards.
Bison Trails has worked with Solana for over a year, from running one of the first nodes in all testnets and incentivized testnets to deploying infrastructure on both physical hardware and in the cloud. It has been a pleasure to push the decentralized edge with them, help troubleshoot novel network failures, and give feedback on incentive design.
The Solana team sets extremely high expectations for themselves and their technology, which impacts infrastructure providers on their network. Their validators and archiver nodes require powerful machines, high bandwidth, and the very highest standards and practices. Bison Trails is thrilled to provide a platform that runs this type of enterprise-grade infrastructure and is uniquely positioned to support Solana’s token holders and network participants in running nodes.
“We’re proud to have the support of the Bison Trails team, with both teams determined to do everything we can to expand the blockchain ecosystem as a whole. At Solana, we’re developing a scaling solution for blockchains that can uniquely capitalize on improvements in hardware and bandwidth. Because of this approach, the upfront and on-going resources required to participate as a validator in the Solana network can be more demanding than other protocols. Which is why the infrastructure being developed by the Bison Trails team is critical to our network's long term success as their goal is to enable anyone to easily spin up a secure and cost-effective validator.
But it doesn’t stop at infrastructure alone, with external opportunities such as the Libra Association where Bison Trails are one of the founding members, and we at Solana being one of the first teams to integrate Libra’s Move VM." —Eric Williams, Solana Co-Founder and Chief Scientist
Bison Trails is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service company, based in New York City, specifically focused on blockchain participation. We’ve built a platform for anyone who wants to participate in new chains effortlessly (e.g. by running Cosmos Validators, Tezos Bakers, and Libra Validators, etc.)—without having to invest time and resources into developing any of the engineering, protocol, dev ops, or security competencies in-house. Our goal is for the entire blockchain ecosystem to flourish by providing robust infrastructure for the pioneers of tomorrow.
Contact us to learn more about our enterprise-grade blockchain infrastructure or running Solana Nodes on the Bison Trails platform.