A new architecture for a high-performance blockchain.
The team is building a new blockchain protocol that’s based on encoding passage of time as data. It's called Proof of History (PoH). Solana is creating a trustless, distributed, cryptographic protocol to create a reliable ordering of events, which solves for many of the existing scalability problems that other blockchain protocols face. The solution is built to make transaction processing independent of consensus. Additionally, this is a high-throughput blockchain that doesn’t rely on shards, partitions, side chains, multi chains, etc. As a result of this new system architecture, Solana’s new PoH blockchain will allow up to 710,000 transactions per second on a 1 gigabit network.
For many distributed networks, the time to finality (the guarantee that past transactions on a digital ledger are legitimate and will not change) scales as the square or even the cube of the number of nodes in the system. Because of the Proof of History (PoH) implementation and the Avalanche communication design, Solana blockchain’s time to finality scales with the logarithm of the number of nodes. What does this mean? A high throughput network, with tens of thousands of nodes, that retains sub-second finality times.
Proof of Replication (PoRep) is a proof of storage protocol. And in this blockchain, it’s used for increasing availability, making it unnecessary for all nodes in the entire network to store the full ledger. It achieves this by ensuring that each bit of data has been replicated to it’s own uniquely dedicated physical storage node(s). In practical terms, it essentially allows the network to prove that a node you don’t trust is using its resources to store a segment of the ledger. This generates a torrent like network, where no single node is holding the full ledger, but a copy is always available on demand.
Avalanche is a method of organising the network data flow. The generator (leader) is at the top of the pyramid, with validators at each level below it. And for every additional level below the generator, the number of validators doubles.
This enables Solana to scale their finality times logarithmically or log(n), where ‘n’ is the number of nodes. Typically, finality times on traditional gossip protocols scale at n squared, which means the finality times suffer exponentially as nodes increase on the network. However with Avalanche, the opposite occurs on Solana, thus supporting greater decentralization of nodes, while maintaining sub-second finality times.
Blockchain is an implementation of a fault tolerant replicated state machine. Current publicly available blockchains do not rely on time, or make a weak assumption about the participants abilities to keep time. Each node in the network usually relies on their own local clock without knowledge of any other participants clocks in the network. The lack of a trusted source of time means that when a message timestamp is used to accept or reject a message, there is no guarantee that every other participant in the network will make the exact same choice.
Solana is designed to create a ledger with verifiable passage of time, i.e. duration between events and message ordering. It is anticipated that every node in the network will be able to rely on the recorded passage of time in the ledger without trust.
Proof of History: The Key to Speed
By weaving this standardized timestamp into the blockchain, nodes in the network can verify the time and order of events without witnessing them directly. This drastically reduces messaging overhead and is one example of the many optimization capabilities that become available through Solana’s Proof of History.
Sub-second finality that actually scales
Through Solana’s “Avalanche” network communication innovation, finality times reduce exponentially as the network grows. This means we can expect ~500ms finality up through 10s of thousands of nodes and beyond
Finally, scaling without sharding
Solana’s approach takes existing blockchain architecture and algorithms and improves on them instead of overlaying additional complexities such as sharding which can compromise security. We believe the right solution is a simple solution.
Scalable smart contracts in any language
With Solana, you can write smart contracts in almost any language. We leverage Berkeley Packet Filter, allowing any language that LLVM supports to be utilized.
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