In the race for the supreme blockchain, Ethereum has been leading the way. However, Solana is catching up. Solana’s native token, SOL, has seen massive buying pressure, rising 9.02% over the past 24 hours. Additionally, Solana-based tokens started rising as the Sam Bankman-Fried Trial approached its end. But can this newfound faith in SOL push the blockchain above Ethereum?
1. Consensus Mechanism
Blockchains work using a verification system called Consensus Mechanism. This system allows blockchains to remain secure by allowing all participants to agree on the validity of transactions.
If there arises a disagreement on the validity of the transaction records, the blockchain is compromised and immediately halted.
Ethereum currently uses Proof of Stake (PoS) but is transitioning to Ethereum 2.0 with a more advanced PoS mechanism.
Solana uses a unique Proof of History (PoH) combined with Proof of Stake (PoS). PoH timestamps transactions before they are included in a block, reducing the time it takes to reach consensus. This makes Solana a faster network due to the rapid confirmation times.
Despite what (on paper) looks like a winning Solana, PoH has not been tested enough using real-world scenarios, and the times the network encountered high traffic, it crashed. Solana has suffered outages since its launch in 2020 at least seven times. Five of them occurred in 2022 alone. This is quite dangerous for a network with billions of dollars in Total Value Locked (TVL).
On the other hand, Ethereum has never suffered a complete outage since its inception – over 7 years of uptime. In May 2023, Ethereum suffered a finality crisis where blocks were not finalizing. This bout of instability was, however, not considered dire.
2. Transaction Speed and Scalability
Networks have varying capacities to handle transaction throughputs. A blockchain’s throughput is determined by how much traffic is going through it. For instance, while Ethereum handles over 3,000 decentralized applications deployed since June 2021, Solana only has 457 Dapps and tools deployed on the network.
It is no news that Ethereum faces scalability issues, with slower transaction speeds and higher fees during periods of high demand. Ethereum’s block time as of April 2023 was 12-15 seconds, allowing the network to process an average of 6.87 transactions per second
Solana is known for its high throughput, making it more scalable and potentially faster. Solana has a block time (also called ‘slot time’) of about 0.4 seconds. While on paper, Solana claims to handle over 50,000 transactions per second, the network processes 2,766 transactions per second as of November 9, 2023, 4:30 P.M. UTC.
While it may be argued that Ethereum’s TPS is low because of the vast number of protocols and Dapps built on it, the difference between 6.87 TPS and 2,766 TPS is too significant to attribute to the number of Dapps. Solana has maintained an impressive TPS even as the number of Dapps on the network increased.
3. Smart Contract Language
In the world of programming languages, different languages have different levels of versatility and can contribute to the network’s popularity.
Ethereum uses Solidity as the primary programming language for smart contracts. Solidity is a popular language that allows developers to build Dapps easily. Because of this, Ethereum’s development skyrocketed within only a few years. Over time, launching Dapps and smart contracts became easier by creating no-code tools.
Launching and popularizing EVM-compatible blockchains such as Binance Chain, Arbitrum, StarkNet, ZKsync, and Optimism further increased the popularity of the Solidity language.
While Solana’s leading smart contract language is Rust, the network supports multiple programming languages, making it more flexible for developers. Developers can build on Solana using C++ and Solidity.
Solana takes this one because of the flexibility of having Rust, C++, and Solidity to work with. This flexibility allows developers to develop a broader range of Dapps that may have more sophisticated functionality than those using only Solidity on Ethereum.
Solidity by itself is a powerful language, however, combined with other equally powerful and versatile languages, it gives Solana an edge over Ethereum.
Blockchain networks need to be decentralized, as this feature is the main reason why blockchain technology exists in the first place.
Ethereum is generally considered decentralized, but the move to Ethereum 2.0 has raised concerns about centralization due to the high amount of staked ETH required. To become a network validator, you need to own at least 32 ETH.
While many initially thought this would be a concern, it turned out to be a strong point. 878.083 active validators currently secure Ethereum as of November 9, 2023, 4:30 P.M. UTC.
Some critics argue that Solana developers emphasized speed and performance and compromised on decentralization. The reason for this assessment is the number of validators on the network.
Solana has a total of 1998 validators, with 23 controlling over 33% of the total stake. This means these entities could theoretically censor/halt the network if colluded.
ETH has been around longer than Solana. Ethereum has more than 50 times the number of validators Solana has.
Furthermore, Ethereum’s list of validators is evenly distributed, with no one validator owning a significantly larger stake than the rest.
Both Ethereum and Solana have their strengths and weaknesses. Ethereum, with its established position and extensive ecosystem, is a reliable choice for developers. On the other hand, Solana offers impressive speed and scalability, making it an attractive option for projects that demand high transaction throughput.
Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on the specific needs and priorities of a given project or user. If the features discussed here are things that you highly consider before investing in a network, then Ethereum may be the best blockchain for you to work with.