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What makes Solana fast?

Solana is one of the fastest and most efficient blockchain networks in the world. In a sea of slow and clogged chains like Ethereum and Bitcoin, Solana stands out for its incredible speed and low transaction costs. But what exactly makes Solana so fast? In this article, we’ll explore the technical innovations that allow Solana to process up to 50,000 transactions per second.

Proof of History

One of the key innovations behind Solana’s speed is its Proof of History (PoH) consensus mechanism. Instead of relying on Proof of Work or Proof of Stake, Solana uses PoH to establish order and timestamp transactions on the network without a central authority.

Here’s how it works: a sequence of cryptographic hashes are calculated in advance and recorded on the blockchain. Each new hash contains the previous hash, creating an ordered chain that proves the sequence of events happened in a specific order. This allows Solana nodes to process transactions in parallel, since they already know the precise order events occurred without having to communicate extensively with each other.

PoH essentially acts as a “cryptographic clock” that timestamps transactions and enables much faster consensus than other mechanisms that require lengthy confirmation. This unique construction is one of the key innovations that allows Solana to scale to thousands of transactions per second without sacrificing decentralization or security.

Proof of Stake

In addition to PoH, Solana also employs a Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus to validate transactions and achieve network agreement. Under PoS, validators stake SOL coins to secure the network. The more coins they stake, the more likely they are to be selected to validate blocks of transactions.

By relying on staked validators instead of solving computationally-intensive cryptographic puzzles like in Proof of Work, PoS allows Solana to reach consensus much faster and more efficiently. Validators can process blocks in parallel, compounding the benefits of the PoH timestamping mechanism. Furthermore, PoS is much more energy efficient than PoW.

Solana implements optimized PoS through a tiered structure of validator nodes. Higher-performing nodes validate more transactions than less performant nodes, enabling the network to adapt and scale dynamically. The combination of PoH and PoS creates a rapid yet secure consensus mechanism.

Block Propagation

In addition to innovative consensus protocols, Solana achieves blazing speeds through optimizations in how blocks are propagated across the network.

Solana utilizes a blockchain architecture called Tower BFT that allows blocks to transmit across nodes in a parallel, pipelined fashion similar to TCP packet flows. This enables a single block of transactions to be propagated to the entire network at once, instead of sequential node-to-node transmission. Tower BFT dramatically improves throughput and reduces confirmation times.

Solana also implements Turbine, a block propagation protocol that further reduces the number of nodes that must receive a block before the network can reach consensus. Together with Tower BFT, Turbine allows Solana to propagate blocks at light speed while preserving decentralization.

Gulf Stream

In traditional blockchains, nodes must process an entire block of transactions before transmitting to peers. This wastes time as much of the work is repeated by downstream nodes.

Solana’s Gulf Stream protocol enables nodes to forward partially processed packets of transactions to peers in a mempool, allowing downstream nodes to get a head start on validation. This concurrent transaction processing pipeline allows the overall network to reach consensus much faster.

Gulf Stream also unclogs the bottleneck of block propagation across nodes, enabling theoretical throughput up to 710,000 transactions per second on the Solana mainnet.

Sealevel Parallel Smart Contracts

One of Ethereum’s major scaling challenges is its account-based model, where each smart contract has its own state that must be tracked. This gets expensive as usage grows.

In contrast, Solana uses a single state architecture, enabled by a runtime called Sealevel. All smart contracts on Solana can process transactions in parallel, as they share the same state. This allows the network to scale horizontally across GPU cores to improve speed and throughput.

Sealevel utilizes parallelization techniques like pipelining, data flow, and SIMD to run Solana programs in parallel. This breakthrough design allows Solana to validate up to 200,000 transactions per second across its smart contract engine.

Cloudbreak Horizontally Scaled Nodes

To fully capitalize on Solana’s architectural optimizations, the network is powered by enterprise-grade server nodes that can horizontally scale performance and throughput.

The recommended Solana node hardware configuration is Cloudbreak, which contains at least 2 TB of NVMe SSD storage and 128 GB of RAM across an 8-core/16-thread processor. Some validators use specialized GPUs as well. By combining cutting-edge software with high-performance hardware, Solana nodes can validate blocks and transactions at blazing speeds.

Furthermore, Cloudbreak is designed to scale horizontally by adding more CPUs, GPUs, RAM, and storage. This allows validator nodes to reach speeds of 700,000 to 1 million signatures per second in aggregate – something no other blockchain can achieve currently.


To understand just how fast Solana is compared to alternatives, let’s compare performance metrics between Solana and Ethereum, the most used smart contract platform.

Metric Solana Ethereum
Consensus Mechanism Proof of History + Proof of Stake Proof of Work (moving to PoS)
Avg. Transaction Speed 570 TPS 15 TPS
Peak Transaction Speed 50,000 TPS 15-45 TPS
Transaction Finality 6 minutes
Transaction Fees $0.00025 per tx $2-$10 per tx

As the table illustrates, Solana is orders of magnitude faster than Ethereum in every metric. Solana’s industry-leading speed and scalability make it the blockchain uniquely positioned for global adoption.


Solana’s incredible transaction speeds are enabled by a unique combination of technological innovations. By utilizing Proof of History, Proof of Stake, optimized block propagation, parallelized runtimes, and horizontally scaled hardware, Solana achieves industry-leading performance of up to 50,000 transactions per second.

When compared to alternatives like Ethereum, Solana is far faster, more scalable, and provides a dramatically better user experience through nearly instant transaction finality. As blockchain adoption continues accelerating, Solana’s speed gives it a major competitive advantage to become the leading global blockchain.