Solana’s Founder Responds to Criticism, Defends Network’s Design for Security and Speed
Solana’s founder, Anatoly Yakovenko, has shed light on the unique approach Solana uses to ensure the security and performance of its blockchain. The explanation was prompted by a tweet suggesting that Solana’s outages were due to on-chain votes. Yakovenko clarified that the proof of stake systems require significant network communication for validation and Solana uses quadratic messaging overhead to ensure classic Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT) consensus.
In his tweet on February 28th, Yakovenko questioned the ignorance behind the discussion that votes are transactions. He explained that classic BFT consensus requires quadratic messaging overhead, meaning that the more nodes in the same quorum, the more messages the network has to handle. For instance, a 100 node network would handle around 10k messages per round, while Solana’s 3k node network handles 9 million messages, which is a lot.
Why are votes transactions? Every thread that I’ve seen that talks about this comes form pure ignorance.
Classic BFT consensus requires quadratic messaging overhead.
The more nodes you have in the same quorum, the part of the network that agrees on the state, the more messages… https://t.co/8lOhICb8mn
— toly 🇺🇸 (@aeyakovenko) February 27, 2023
One solution is to keep the quorum at 200 nodes, so the load stays under 40k messages. However, this approach has several security and performance tradeoffs, and subcommittee rotation requires consensus measured in seconds.
Solana’s approach is unique, as it wants to be fast and super secure. The 2800 node Solana quorum means that any 150 nodes that add up to 66% try to create an invalid state transition, or withhold data from the rest of the network, any of the remaining 2650 boxes will rapidly detect this. Security comes from the long tail of boxes that maintain a watchful eye on the majority, with the smallest staked validator adding as much security to the L1 as the largest staked one.
The reason why votes are implemented as transactions is that there must be a highly optimized pipeline to handle all those votes, as 9 million messages are a lot, and it’s only going to get bigger. Every user state transition, an open book order, an orca swap, or a payment requires the same exact security, and each one of these messages must be propagated to all the 3000 nodes in the quorum; otherwise, there is no security.
For all messages that must be fully replicated to all nodes, Solana implements one highly optimized pipeline. Votes are not only counted as transactions but also implemented as transactions because there is no cheaper way to do it. If there were a cheaper way to get votes to all the nodes in the network, user transactions would also take the cheaper path.
Solana provides an exceptional level of security, high throughput, and low fees, all at the same time, because of its design. Other networks do not offer the same level of security or performance because their quorums are small, and consensus rounds are measured in seconds. Quorum size is limited by the data availability of the quorum, and votes are messages that are signed, atomically change state, need spam resistance, and are replicated consistently across all the nodes in the quorum.
In conclusion, Solana founder Anatoly Yakovenko’s recent explanation sheds light on the unique approach Solana takes to ensure security and performance in its blockchain. Despite facing criticism for outages, Yakovenko clarified that Solana’s high throughput and low fees are achieved through a design that relies on a large quorum and fast block times. This design ensures a high level of security by allowing any small minority of honest nodes to detect any nefarious activities on the network. Yakovenko’s explanation also highlights the challenges faced by proof of stake systems, particularly the high network communication required for validation. Overall, Solana’s approach stands out from other networks, providing an exceptional level of security and performance at the same time.
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