Anybody that has read a recent article of mine probably noticed that I had at least a bit of bias towards Solana. With me both constantly mentioning it's movements, adding it into the thumbnail and overall hyping it up. And you'd be correct, I very much like Solana as a project and I'm also a holder of Solana so there is a financial benefit there as well. However, what I'll be talking about today should do the opposite. I want to talk about some current downsides I've encountered in the Solana ecosystem as well as voice a few other facts.
This meme actually perfectly shows all the things I want to talk about today...
Let's start with Solanas transactions per second (TPS). It's what most people hear about and the entire selling point of the coin, and deservedly so because it outpaces so many other projects by miles.
Now, what does it take to have this high of a TPS? Well essentially... nodes that are small servers, or the equivalent high level computer for crypto. I was actually just visiting the site when it offered me the option to become a node, so I went to check it out just out of curiosity... than came the specs.
12 cores / 24 threads, or more
2.8GHz, or faster
AVX2 instruction support (to use official release binaries, self-compile otherwise)
Support for AVX512f and/or SHA-NI instructions is helpful
The AMD Threadripper Zen3 series is popular with the validator community
128GB, or more
Motherboard with 256GB capacity suggested
PCIe Gen3 x4 NVME SSD, or better
Accounts: 500GB, or larger. High TBW (Total Bytes Written)
Ledger: 1TB or larger. High TBW suggested
OS: (Optional) 500GB, or larger. SATA OK The OS may be installed on the ledger disk, though testing has shown better performance with the ledger on its own disk
Accounts and ledger can be stored on the same disk, however due to high IOPS, this is not recommended
The Samsung 970 and 980 Pro series SSDs are popular with the validator community
Not strictly necessary at this time Motherboard and power supply speced to add one or more high-end GPUs in the future suggested
To some of you this is just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. And I'll just spell it out for everyone... The average RAM right now for a solid computer is 8GB... To be a Solana node you need to have AT LEAST 128GB. And my god that is a lot both in size and in price if we measured it. To add to that, the validator also has to pay up to 1.1 SOL per day making it even more of a financial burden.
This tells us that there is a high barrier of entry that is only available to a few people while the rest of it is the Solana companies running nodes. So right now the nodes are quite centralized unfortunately. With this comes the question of security, more nodes would also mean more security and as of right now there are around 941 validator nodes. Which is an ok number but with the aforementioned difficulties of setting one up, it will take quite a bit of time for both this number to grow and the difficulty to decrease.
With everything I just stated one might say I'm spewing FUD in this article... but wait, these aren't the only facts that we have. There is a second part of this info that I'd also like to share and it should counter the previously stated ones quite nicely.
Firstly I'll state the obvious, the necessary specs are something that is non-negotiable, for the network to function the nodes have to be that strong. That's how it is for the time being, but the Solana mainnet is still currently in beta. The code is still being actively developed and with full transparency. There are discord discussions and open issues on Github that the core team discusses between themselves and the discord community. So there is much to be done and solved.
There are actually 2000 validators on testnet, and having 941, or as some say around 1000 on the mainnet beta is still impressive as there is obviously involvement on the communities side, so it's not just the companies controlling the nodes. Anyone can still be a validator unlike in actual centralized projects where an authority choses who can or can't be. It's hard to become one but a possibility always exists.
The last part was explained well by a redditor in a comment
There are ongoing grants and incentives to strengthen censorship resistance and decentralization. In the near term there is more reliance on the Solana Foundation and Solana Labs the for-profit company that started the network but there is clearly defined roadmap and pathway to a strong, independent and decentralized network.
With all of those facts stated I mainly wanted to show you 2 sides of the same coin. The FUD and The Potential. Both should be taken into consideration when researching coins and I for one am staying with Solana for the long term. I don't expect an ETH killer but I do expect a competitive project that will live alongside the top ones. So DYOR and be ware of the FUD.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!