Solana SOL

Rank 8

$138.38

-7.69%

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About Solana

About Solana

Solana is a blockchain that’s unlike any other, in that it relies on a distinctive consensus method called proof of history (which, as we’ll see, is just one of eight ‘core innovations’ around which the technology is based). The long-term goal of the developers is to make the world’s financial systems truly distributed and democratic. “Solana is a fast, secure and censorship-resistant blockchain,” says it’s lead developer, Anatoly Yakovenko, an engineer whose CV includes stints at Qualcomm and Dropbox.

  • SOL can process more than fifty thousand transactions per second.
  • Block times are at around 400ms.
  • There are 489 million SOL tokens, of which around 260 million have entered the market.
How does Solana work?

For the sake of clarity, let’s set out the eight innovations, and explain how each of them works.

Proof of History

Proof of History is an alternative to the Proof of Stake and Proof of Work mechanisms favoured by other blockchains. Rather than having contributors perform arbitrarily difficult sums, Proof of History creates a historical timestamp which proves that a given event has taken place at a given time. Some of the mechanisms of Proof of Stake, like validation, still remain.

Solana does this through something called a Verifiable Delay Function, which generates a unique hash, which is a function of time in the real world. The advantage here is that nodes can figure out the order of events without having to hear from other nodes. As a consequence, Solana is orders of magnitude quicker than many of its rivals.

Tower BFT

Tower BFT is a version of practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance that gets things done quickly, rather than consistently. The Solana implementation of PBFT relies on the way that proof of history works. It allows for consensus while eliminating the huge time delay generated by having all of the nodes talk to one another.

Turbine

Turbine is Solana’s way of dealing with bandwidth limitations, which turn into a considerable problem as node counts escalate. In principle, turbine is a solution borrowed from BitTorrent. Any given chunk of data is carved up into smaller pieces, which are then distributed to all of the receiving parties. These parties then in turn send the pieces to one another, until everyone has the entire package. In Turbine, the most important validators are prioritised when it comes to propagation, thereby incentivising good actors on the network.

Gulf Stream

This technology deals with mempools. This term refers to the transactions on a network that have been submitted, but not yet processed. When the mempool is large, it tends to mean that a bottleneck is occurring, as demand for transactions exceeds the blockchain’s ability to provide them.

Gulf Stream is a technique whereby transactions are pushed to the ‘edge’ of the network. This allows transactions to be executed ahead of time, and pressure on memory to be pushed downward.

Sealevel

Sealevel is mooted as a ‘world first’. It’s a runtime that can process thousands of smart contracts in parallel, using all the cores of a given validator. This allows transactions to be processed concurrently, and for one transaction to be read while another is executing.

Pipeline

Pipelining aims to get the most possible utility from a given piece of hardware. It does this through software-based processing units, which divide work into Fetch, Sig Verify, Banking and Write. The first and last stages take place at kernel level; sig verify is handed to the GPU, while Banking is handed to the CPU. You can think of this as analogous to a production line in a factory, where one process must occur before the other. Through pipelining, the division of labour in a given machine can be optimised for maximum production— just as Adam Smith observed, centuries ago!

Cloudbreak

Cloudbreak is what makes Solana so scalable without the need for sharding. Memory becomes a bottleneck when it comes to both capacity and access speeds. Cloudbreak does away with this by using memory-mapped files, whose contents are kept in the virtual address space of a given process. It also uses sequential operations rather than random ones.

Archivers

The developers estimate that, at full capacity, the Solana network would generate several petabytes (that’s thousands of terabytes) each year. This data is not stored by every node; it’s instead spread across a range of them, called archivers.

SOL price history

The price of SOL has steadily climbed since its inception in 2017. It was buoyed up to just under $5 in September 2020, just following the launch of the Mainnet.

Following a series of tweets by Elon Musk, and rumblings of a Chinese crackdown on cryptocurrency in general, the price of SOL plummeted in mid May 2021, slumping from just under $60 to less than $40 in a twenty-four hour period between May 18th and May 19th 2021.

SOL price prediction

It’s difficult to predict the trajectory of any cryptocurrency. Moreover, any currency can experience sudden collapses in value — in this case to zero. It’s the job of the investor to do the necessary groundwork before making a purchase.

As we come out of the record-breaking bull period that began in January 2021, we might expect a significant correction. Negative headlines are likely to spook speculative investors, which will drive the SOL price down. In the long-term, there’s reason to believe that the trajectory is still upward. The price of a single SOL might surpass $100 at some point before 2023 — but more optimistic timeframes may be found wanting.

What affects the price of SOL?

We can say with some certainty that the Solana price is tied closely to that of Bitcoin, and of the wider crypto market. We might take the crash of late May 2021 as proof of this — just about every altcoin was dragged downward by the waning fortunes of BTC.

Being a relatively new altcoin, SOL is subject to even greater volatility than other currencies, as a small number of players can move large volumes of SOL in a short time, thereby creating significant swings. The technical merits of the blockchain, and the speed at which it’s able to operate, might attract considerable interest as it matures. If you’re ready for a bumpy ride, it’s a commodity worth investing in.

Frequently asked questions

Solana is — like other forms of crypto — heavily tied to the wider market, and to Bitcoin in particular. But investors might also look at the potential utility of the network in the long term. Shifts of the stock market into the crypto space might spell good news for SOL in particular, as it’s a product with considerable utility for the financial sector.

Solana is a project that aims to combine scalability with lightning-fast speed and near-zero fees. It’s ambitious — but it’s shown promise thus far, with new blocks being produced in less than half a second, and support for more than 50,000 transactions per second. The network has been around since 2017, but it didn’t launch officially until 2020. It’s favoured by creators of decentralised applications. Solana takes a slightly novel approach to achieving consensus across the network. It uses a ‘Proof of History’ function, alongside a proof of stake consensus for the underlying blockchain. Rather than ascertaining what time that particular events happened, it focuses on establishing the order in which they happened. It’s this method that’s behind the currency’s impressive achievements.

Solana's ticker symbol is SOL. On exchanges, you sometimes may need to use this ticker name to find trading pairs for Solana.

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