Solana ICO Overview
The Solana ICO is another addition to the race of high-throughput blockchains, with a target of 710k transactions per second (tps) at sub-second finality. Solana intend to build their high-throughput blockchain without leveraging sharding or data partitioning. Instead, the project employs a novel approach to consensus through Proof of History (PoH) and Proof of Stake (PoS), to support horizontal scaling.
Solana ICO Value Proposition
Solana utilizes Proof of History as the first component to scaling. PoH is a proof for verifying the order and passage of time between events. The role of PoH in the system is to encode the trustless passage of time into the ledger.
With PoH, any node in the system can be designated as the “Leader” to generate a PoH sequence. The Leader sequences user messages and places them in order for efficient processing by other nodes in the system. Transactions are then executed and published, and a signature of the final state is delivered to replication nodes, known as Verifiers. Verifiers execute the same transactions on their copies of the state, and publish their computed signatures of the state as confirmations. The published confirmations serve as votes for the consensus algorithm.
A Proof of Stake consensus mechanism is leveraged for confirmation of the current sequence produced by the PoH generator. PoS is also used for voting and selecting the next PoH generator node as well as punishing any validators that act against the interest of the network.
As an additional layer of security, the network will intentionally generate an invalid hash at random intervals and penalize any verifiers that validate it.
Solana will integrate smart contract capabilities into the system. Developers can write smart contracts in a myriad of programming languages supported by LLVM, including Rust and Cuda. The ultimate goal is to provide support for smart contract development in any language, providing a massive improvement in accessibility for developers.
Solana ICO Team
Anatoly Yakovenko is the Founder and CEO of Solana. Anatoly rose the ranks from Engineer to Senior Staff Engineer Manager over a 12 year period at Qualcomm, a leading multinational telecommunications equipment company producing wireless telecom products. After leaving Qualcomm, he began engineering distributed systems for Mesosphere and later, Dropbox. Anatoly holds 4 patents in his name, including one for the invention of a lossless data compression system that leverages recurrent neural networks.
Greg Fitzgerald is Co-founder and CTO of Solana. Greg spent 11 years at Qualcomm, where he contributed to the development of their LLVM toolchain. Before leaving Qualcomm to found Solana, he rose to the position of Senior Staff Software Engineer, leading the web and messaging infrastructure team.
Raj Gokal is COO of Solana. He has 10 years of experience in product management and finance. Raj served as Director of Project Management at Omada Health, during which time the company grew tenfold. He is also the Co-founder and former CEO/CPO of Sano, a consumer medical device company, for which he continues to serve as an advisor.
Stephen Akridge is a former Senior Engineer at Salesforce. He has 10 years of experience with GPU optimization working at Qualcomm and Intel.
Eric Williams is in charge of Data Science and Tokenomics. He spent 3 years working at Omada Health, where he rose to the position of Vice President of Data and Analytics before leaving to found his own startup. Eric holds a PhD in Particle Physics from Columbia University.
Alan Yu is responsible for business development and partnerships. He has a decade of experience at Google, where he held positions including Display Product Specialist, Senior Account Manager and Account Executive.
Solana ICO Strengths and Opportunities
Solana has taken an “execution first” approach to their project, which has resulted in significant progress on the tech development front, especially for an early stage ICO. On June 1st, Solana released their testnet, with full details available on their GitHub.
According to CTO Greg Fitzgerald, the testnet produces consistent transaction processing rates between 140 and 170k tps with or without a validator node in place. While the overall speed has reduced from 250k tps since last month, adding validators has not slowed down the network. The multi-node testnet has validated the technical proposition originally proposed by Solana, making this an important milestone for the project. (NOTE: July 2nd, 2018: Solana’s team contacted us to explain that since the review was written, they are now back at 250k tps. We consider this claim to be credible.)
With a mainnet launch scheduled for Q4 2018, the team appear well on track to reaching their target.
Solana have made it clear that decentralized exchanges (DEXs), payments and distributed web services are all ripe areas for disruption once the team has optimized performance of the blockchain. The application of Solana to DEXs is particularly intriguing.
With a high-throughput capability of such scale, Solana would improve the slow and expensive transactions which face existing DEXs. Moreover, Solana offers the possibility of radically scaling transaction volume while ameliorating issues like price-time priority and front-running, which are major concerns for financial regulatory authorities as crypto trading volume grows.
The ability to support scaling as volume increases also paves a pathway to bringing higher liquidity to the DEX space. As DEXs are currently among the most prominent use case scenarios for blockchain technology, we view this avenue as particularly lucrative for the project.
Solana ICO Weaknesses and Threats
The adoption of Solana will depend on how the team positions their product within the increasingly saturated space of high-throughput blockchain solutions. While the team has made clear which use cases they are targeting first, information on major partnerships that pertain specifically to these scenarios has yet to be released.
So far though, two partnerships for integration with Solana have been announced; one with GlobalID, a universal decentralized identity application, and the second with Helium, a decentralized machine network solution targeting the IoT sector. As a protocol, these partnerships are certainly a step in the right direction for ecosystem building.
Still, with the potential Solana holds as a high-throughput frontrunner, we’re anticipating more developments to this end, as the true potential Solana will only be realized through partnerships at scale.
The Verdict on the Solana ICO
The Solana ICO holds serious prospects as a novel approach to achieving high-throughput and scalability. The domain experience of the team and advanced level of product development show positive indications of a strong project. While roadmap to scaling and adoption is not yet clear, as an early stage project, this does not present a particularly concerning issue.
We have been in discussions with the Solana ICO team and our ratings are based on conversations and information that they have asked us to keep confidential. While it may seem premature to rate their ICO highly, we have been made privy to insights that suggest a strong project, and we will update this review when the Solana ICO team is ready to share further data.
The Solana ICO team has a Telegram Group at https://t.me/solanaio for more immediate updates.