For over a year, the crypto division of trading giant Jump Trading has been developing a second validator client for the network in collaboration with the Solana Foundation. "Firedancer" is intended to increase both decentralization and performance of the Solana blockchain.
Solana is a powerful blockchain platform known for its speed and scalability. With around 65,000 transactions per second (TPS), the network already enables the efficient use of smart contracts. Unlike competing blockchains such as Ethereum, Solana makes trade-offs in decentralization for this. A new validator client, Firedancer, could counteract these disadvantages and pave the way for a million TPS on Solana.
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Firedancer as a key component for Solana
A validator client is a software component in a blockchain network that plays a crucial role in maintaining the network's security and consensus mechanism. Such an application validates and processes transactions, participates in the block creation process, and supports the decentralization of a network. Due to the young history of the network, Solana has only one validator client. A variety of available software would make the blockchain less vulnerable to future failures.
Firedancer is an independent Solana validator client designed to increase network performance in addition to software diversity. Developed by Jump Crypto, the crypto division of billion-dollar trading firm Jump Trading, Firedancer was able to process up to 1.2 million transactions per second in a demo. The actual improvement in network performance is likely to be lower in reality. Nevertheless, with high adoption, Firedancer would drastically increase the scalability of the Solana blockchain.
Unique selling points of the Solana blockchain
The Solana blockchain is often compared to other smart contract platforms such as Ethereum, Polygon, and Avalanche. While the ecosystems include similar applications, there are some key differences at the network level:
- Consensus mechanism: Solana uses the unique Proof of History (PoH) consensus mechanism in combination with Proof of Stake (PoS). PoH offers several advantages in terms of transaction throughput and fee price.
- Speed: Solana is known for its exceptional speed and scalability. Ethereum currently achieves around 14 TPS, while Layer 2 blockchains like Arbitrum have also not yet cracked the 1000 mark. Solana has recorded 8,500 TPS so far, while the theoretical maximum number according to Firedancer is much higher.
- Development stack: Solana does not use the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), on which most of the established blockchains are built. Instead, it has its own development stack based on the Rust programming language.
- Decentralization trade-offs: The blockchain trilemma states a decentralized network can only optimize two of the three pillars of decentralization, security, and scalability. Therefore, to achieve the increased speed, Solana has a less diverse node environment and thus a deeper level of decentralization.
The Firedancer Validator client was intended to further exploit these advantages of the Solana network while providing an alternative to the Solana Foundation's current only software.