What is Solana? A Definitive Guide for 2022

Solana (SOL) is a fast and programmable blockchain that can process 50,000 TPS (transactions per second).

Every 400 milliseconds, Solana produces new blocks aided by 200 validating nodes and maintaining network fees of almost zero.

It is a fast web-scale blockchain and provides scalable, decentralized apps (dApps) and secure marketplaces.

To understand a programmable blockchain, you need to understand the technology used by Bitcoin (BTC), a non-programmable blockchain.

BTC is a giant, decentralized and tamper-proof ledger. It records transactions and allows the transfer of funds without an intermediary such as a bank.

Programmable blockchains store small pieces of code known as smart contracts. You can program the smart contracts to perform specific actions when certain pre-set conditions are met.

For example, suppose you own a car rental business. In that case, you can set up a smart contract that automatically pays your customers’ deposit when they return the vehicle in good condition.

Solana Background

Anatoly Yakovenko founded the Solana platform in 2017. He published a whitepaper detailing Proof of History. This technique keeps time between computers that do not trust each other.

Before he founded Solana, Yakovenko was employed by Qualcomm and has vast experience using compression algorithms and creating distribution systems.

He also had a stint as a software engineer with Dropbox. He worked at Mesosphere and understood that a reliable and trustworthy clock makes it easy to synchronize networks.  

When synchronization is on point, the result is a lightning-fast network, whose only binding factor is the network bandwidth.

Together with Solana’s CTO Greg Fitzgerald and Eric Williams, they created a novel way of tackling conventional throughput issues found in the Ethereum and Bitcoin platforms. The trio sought to create a distributed and trustless protocol enabling more scalability.

Solana’s Architecture

Before we get into how Solana works, you need to understand its architecture. Below are some of the core features that make it a one-of its kind web-scale blockchain.

1. PoH

PoH or Proof of History is a cryptographic clock, not a consensus protocol. PoH enables nodes to come to a consensus on the time and order of events on the blockchain without communicating (every node has an inbuilt clock).

PoH improves efficiency and enhances throughput in the network via the storage of transaction records. The clock also allows the network to better monitor the order of events.

2. Byzantine Fault Tolerance(pBFT)

Solana implemented Practical Byzantine fault tolerance (pBFT) using Tower BFT (byzantine fault tolerance) and optimized it for use in PoH.

Tower BFT is an algorithm that leverages the cryptographic clock and arrives at a consensus without perusing the numerous messages within the nodes, which enhances the speed of transactions.

3. Gulf Stream (Mempool system {contraction of memory and pool})

Gulfstream is what enables Solana to perform 50,000 Transactions Per Second (TPS), and is the protocol that also enables a transaction to be cached and forwarded to the network’s periphery.

This helps the validators execute transactions early, minimizing the memory and confirmation time needed for unconfirmed transactions.

Turbine: Turbine is defined as a block propagation system. It breaks data down into small bits, which makes it easier for data transfer between nodes. Turbine assists Solana in addressing bandwidth problems, thus increasing Solana’s processing speed for all transactions.

Sealevel: Sealevel is a processing engine that allows the Solana network to scale horizontally across SSDs and GPUs. In short, Sealevel allows simultaneous transactions on one chain, which results in improved runtime for Solana.

Pipelining: Pipelining is used in CPUs and involves data being assigned for processing to various hardware. This process allows for quicker transaction data to be duplicated and validated much quicker across the nodes.

Cloudbreak: Cloudbreak is a data structure that is needed for Solana’s throughput and scalability. It streamlines the account database and enables reads and writes between Solana’s 32 threads to happen simultaneously.

Archivers: Solana’s network validators transfer information to a node network, also known as Archivers. These nodes are either standard Pcs or laptops the network can utilize for storing data.

How Solana Works

Solana is among the best-performing permissionless blockchains at the moment. As mentioned, it has a network of about 200 nodes with 50,000 TPS.

Solana utilizes a Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus model, just like Tron or Cardano. Still, it is backed by the Tower BFT protocol that enables it to arrive at a consensus.

Tower BFT creates a universal record of all transactions and events on the blockchain, a reference used by all the network nodes. As also mentioned, Proof of History is not a consensus mechanism but a decentralized clock, which secures the Solana blockchain.

Tower BFT utilizes the permissionless clock for minimizing the needed processing power for transactions. On the other hand, Sealevel is the parallelization system for trades. It enables the runtime of parallel smart contracts.

This parallelization optimizes the use of resources and allows horizontal scaling in SSDs and GPUs. In simple terms, any evaluated event or transaction receives a unique hash and an effectively and publicly verifiable count.

Gulfstream forwards transactions to the network validators before the other sets of transactions have been finalized. This protocol enables the maximization of transaction speeds and the parallel and concurrent transaction capacity of Solana.

Is Solana Better Than Ethereum?

Lately, the crypto world has been seeing a lot of “Ethereum Killer’ projects. These projects such as PolkaDot, Cardano, and Dfinity all claim to be the ones to disrupt Ethereum, which is one of the best blockchain applications.

However, Solana, the latest entry into the crypto world, seems to be a real contender in the “Ethereum Killer’ list.

It is too early to tell whether Solana will be the actual Ethereum killer. However, the top three factors that have thrust Solana into the forefront are products, partnerships, scalability, and advanced technology.

What sets Solana apart is that it offers various solutions that have accelerated its rise to one of the best blockchains globally.

The Solana technology is best understood by considering the “Blockchain Scalability Trilemma.” According to the trilemma, three critical attributes in a blockchain should be security, decentralization, and scalability.

Two of these three characteristics can work excellently but at the expense of the third characteristic. This means you can have high security, high decentralization, and sacrifice scalability.

Solana seems to have found a solution to the trilemma by being secure, decentralized, and scalable at the same time. This is possible through its PoH consensus. Solana is also extremely fast, with 50,000 TPS compared to Ethereum’s 15 to 45 TPS. However, Ethereum 2.0 is slated to jump to approximately 100,000 TPS.

Currently, Solana has 608 network validators and 47 Dapps (decentralized apps) against Ethereum’s 33,700 validators and over 3,000 Dapps.

Decentralization is vital as it takes power away from the hands of a few people. If a majority of Solana’s validators were to jeopardize the platform, they would ruin Solano’s entire network 

With this in mind, it’s too early to make a judgment on whether Solano is better. Still, time will tell, and Solana does seem very promising.

Institutional Investors Backing Solana

Solana is the tenth largest cryptocurrency, and it’s becoming a preferred asset by investors.

A recent report on digital asset fund flows by CoinShares emerged that investment products tied to Solana products garnered $7.1 million in the third week of August 2021 compared to $3.2 billion for Ethereum products.

The reason for this surge in Solana investments is its recent price surge from just over $35 to over $75.This price surge is partly due to the rising projects developing on top of the Solana network and are getting capital inflows.

For instance, Serum is a decentralized exchange is built on top of the Solana blockchain. Serum was founded by the billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange. Serum’s aim when building on Solana was to get the best of the centralized and decentralized ecosystems.

This use of centralized and decentralized ecosystems meant the exchange would be censorship-resistant, non-custodial, inexpensive, fast, and liquid.

This is possible because Solana allows Serum to operate on CLOB (on-chain central limit order). CLOB updates every 400 milliseconds. Serum will have the lowest low gas costs and latency.

The decentralized Mango markets also raised $70 million from a token sale earlier in August 2021. A top asset manager, Grayscale takes responsibility for three-quarters of the crypto sector’s Assets Under Management (AUM) holding $42.6 billion.

Circulating Supply of Solana

$SOL is Solana’s native token, and currently, the circulating supply is 26 million SOLS, with a maximum supply of 489 million SOL.

Currently, approximately 260 million coins are already in the market. 16.23% went to an initial seed sale in the SOL distribution, 12.92% went towards a founding sale, 12.79% went to the team members, and 10.46% to the Solana Foundation.

The rest of the tokens were released to the public and private sales, and some are yet to be released.

Where to Buy Solana

You can buy Solana tokens on most of the crypto exchanges, such as:

  • Binance
  • Crypto.com
  • Coinbase
  • Huobi Global
  • Bilaxy
  • Bitfinex
  • FTX
  • FTX US
  • Serum DEX
  • Bithumb

How to Buy Solana

Here is how to buy Solana:

Step 1: Open an online account

Enter an email address with the exchange of your choice, create a password and provide proof of ID. Once your ID has been verified, you are ready to invest.

Step 2: Get a Solana Wallet

Before investing, consider where you will store your crypto coins. Don’t store your assets on the exchange, as you may become a target for hackers. You can buy a software or hardware crypto wallet.

Hardware wallets are the most secure and allow you to store your crypto coins offline on a physical device. Software wallets are free for download on PCs or mobile devices.

Examples of wallets that support Solana include:

  • Ledger Nano X Hardware Wallet
  • Nano S
  • Phantom Wallet (Browser Extension)
  • Math Wallet (Mobile and Browser Extension)
  • Exodus Wallet (Desktop and Mobile)
  • Atomic Wallet (Desktop and Mobile)
  • Sollet (Web Wallet)
  • Coin98 (Mobile and Browser extension)

Step 3: Make Your Purchase

You can purchase Solana on Binance via Bitcoin or USDT. Tether or USDT is a Stablecoin that is pegged to $1. Place your order as a limit or market order.

Limit orders are filled if the crypto settles on a specific price index that you specify. If the cryptocurrency never reaches the fixed price, your order will not be loaded.

Market orders instantly fill your transaction at market price.


As we always advise, do due diligence before investing in Solana, just like you would in any other investment.

It is one of the largest cryptocurrencies and has a lot of potentials to be outstanding. That said, we advise you to do your due diligence before investing.


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