Cardano vs. Solana from a Validator’s perspective

By November 23, 2021DeFi
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A lot of ink has been spilled on the pros and cons of the two projects. People have compared Market Capitalization, Layer 1 throughput, number of dApps already running on the respective chains, communities, percentage of tokens in the hands of public vs. the owners/creators, number of times the network had to be rebooted, number of peer-reviewed papers published ;)

I will touch on some of those metrics, but I really want to present the difference through the perspective of a Validator: a person that decides to participate in the network, running the blockchain validation software on a node, that consist of one or more machines.

I know personally about running a Cardano Node, aka Staking pool, because I am running one successfully since February. I have never lost a block, and my uptime is 100% so, yes, my system works. It costs me about $150/month on Azure, running 2 Relay nodes and 1 Block producing. The VMs just need 2 cores and 16GB or RAM, and as we speak, developers are trying to optimize that to consume less memory.

For Solana, the requirements are:

  • 16 cores/32 threads
  • 256GB Ram
  • 500GB HD
  • 300Mbit/s symmetric network, commercial. 1GBit/s preferred

Now I don’t know how a system like that would perform, as I have not tried it, but on Azure’s marketplace the montly bill for a machine of that type, the bare minimum, lets say 1 E32d v5 (32 vCPUs, 256 GB RAM, 1200GB Temporary storage) is $1,892.21. You have to add the network costs on top, taxes, maybe extra disk space, or Dedicated disk instead of temporary disk, I am not sure. The sure thing is that it costs more than 10X than my system on Cardano.

That cost difference will immediately reduce the number of people willing to give it a stab. For most people it’s easier to experiment with $150 a month rather than $2500. That means that just from this point of view, the Solana network will have more difficulty in achieving true decentralization, as only wealthy individuals will undertake such a task.

The next point I want to make is elegance. Yes you can cram more transaction per second if you beef up the nodes to be able to handle them. It is called brute force in programming, and is not a scalable solution. What is the plan for scaling in that case? Buy bigger and stronger machines? That race cannot be won in a truly decentralized, mass adopted crypto ecosystem. What is really needed is a scaling solution that can be proved to work under tremendous loads. Not to have to reboot the network whenever a threshold of transactions is met. But by validating on a second layer in local networks, and passing the aggregated results to the main blockchain. What a relief for the L1 blockchain!

The other metric I compare is Token distribution. Show me the money! For Cardano, things are clear, all the nodes are run by the community since early this spring the genesis pool retired. According to 83.33% of the total supply is in the hands of the public investors. The numbers for Solana from the same site are grim: only 37% of the total supply are in the hands of investors. That means that it is easier for a defined group of people to potentially manipulate the price. Also, trading on a subset (37% vs. 83%) has scaled effects on the price action, assuming that the foundation is not trading in both cases.

Finally, the question comes down to each one’s personal preference. Once we have the facts, we can make educated decisions. If you want a very fast L1 solution, a young project that grew tremendously the last year, but had some issues Solana is your choice. If you want a steady, albeit slow growth, with solid scientific foundations, with a clear path to the future, with well-defined milestones, an amazing community, with the best scientists in the world working to prove and improve the protocols, truly decentralized ecosystem, Cardano is the answer. Welcome aboard, we love you! (We also love the Solana people, there is space for all! :) )

PS. please consider delegating some ADA to our pool. We donate 10% of our profits to an NTUA student with the best research on Cardano protocols:
ADA Skepsis — ASKP

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