Transactions per second are not the best metric to gauge users’ felt experience. Crypto influencer Packy McCormick stated that using Solana felt like “using the internet” in his analysis for Not Boring. But what does that mean?
The first slide in Solana’s seed round deck reads: “Solana is blockchain at NASDAQ speed.”
Solana block times are measured below 400 milliseconds, which demands considerable network speed and node processing capacity. As a result, Solana node requirements are steep. A prospective node needs a 12 core CPU, 128GB RAM (256GB for an RPC node) and a blazingly fast 500GB SSD.
As a proof of concept, Solana’s testnet has demonstrated 400,000 TPS on a single machine without any networking, which is almost at Nasdaq speed, where the trading servers handle up to 500,000 TPS.
Out in the wild, Solana’s testnet has reached bursts of 59,400 TPS, making it “faster than Visa.” In lab environments, 50 nodes were able to conduct 111,609 TPS on their mainnet. Real-world speed in a distributed system with nodes spread across the globe is, of course, affected by available network speeds.
Table: Solana TPS in a lab environment
Solana’s white paper claims that the theoretical limit to its capacity is even higher than 400,000 TPS and will continue to increase as network speeds and node processing capacity rise and network latency shrinks.
Solana’s performance is achieved without sharding, which is the approach that Ethereum will implement in its next iteration. With sharding, a blockchain is split up into multiple pieces that work in parallel. Still, it introduces complex problems for DeFi when assets processed on different shards are composed.
Time to finality
Transactions are only deemed final after three to 12 validators have confirmed them, depending on the desired security level. The time it takes for these three to 12 confirmations is called the time to finality. Solana takes five seconds on average, with outliers at 12 seconds — a long time for internet standards.
Research by email client Superhuman revealed that users experience delays of more than 100 milliseconds as noticeable friction. Rival layer-one blockchain Avalanche boasts only 1.3–1.6 seconds to finality.
So it seems that Solana, despite its high speed, could never reach the point where it could build a decisive lead over its competition.
This article is an extract from the 80+ page Scaling Report: Does the Future of Decentralized Finance Still Belong to Ethereum? co-published by the Crypto Research Report and Cointelegraph Consulting, written by ten authors and supported by Arcana, Brave, ANote Music, Radix, Fuse, Cryptix, Casper Labs, Coinfinity, Ambire, BitPanda and CakeDEFI.