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Solana is a high-performance, censorship-resistant blockchain network. The protocol touts itself as a more economically viable and technologically-superior option to the Ethereum network. As a layer-1 smart contract network, Solana enables developers to build decentralised applications (dApps). Solana’s major attractions include low gas fees, high transaction throughput, and impressive energy efficiency.
This guide explains how many projects are on Solana, how the blockchain is set up, and so much more. We also explore some of the more exciting projects currently running on Solana and why it’s dubbed the ‘Ethereum killer’
Why Is Solana So Popular Today? Does The ‘Ethereum Killer’ Have More Steam Left?
The first smart contracts were launched on the Ethereum network in 2015. Today, these self-executing lines of code have become the standard in the crypto space. These semi-autonomous code collections are used to create dApps, which facilitate Decentralised finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the Metaverse ecosystem.
Hugely successful, Ethereum’s reliance on the outmoded proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm has led to slow transaction validation, high transaction fees (gas, in crypto terms), and frequent network congestion.
More modern protocols have since been developed to address these deficits, and Solana is a top choice among many. If you have been wondering why Solana is growing, the following reasons should suffice.
Breaking Through The Blockchain Trilemma
Understanding the limitations of a single consensus mechanism, Solana runs on a dual-hybrid architectural framework comprising the proof-of-stake (PoS) and proof-of-history (PoH) consensus mechanism. This framework makes Solana one of the fastest blockchain protocols, with a combined transaction per second(TPS) well above 65,000 TPS. Solana’s transactional efficiency is in sharp contrast to Ethereum’s paltry 14 TPS.
Founder Anatoly Yakovenko has since intimated that the popular Ethereum rival is gunning for a more impressive 710,000 TPS soon to boost its scalability offering further. With such a highly scalable framework, Solana does not require a layer-2 network.
Additionally, the low gas cost has made Solana a hot favourite for users and developers alike. The platform charges less than a dollar for completing transactions on its protocol, with its average cost per transaction placed at a meagre $0.00025. This is a huge draw to DeFi users who deal with Ethereum’s high gas fee, which skyrockets to as high as $500 or more in peak trading sessions.
Although Solana has not gained enough capacity to contend against the Ethereum blockchain, its core capabilities have become a huge draw to several dApps. At press time, over 62 DeFi-facing projects are building on Solana. This is a far cry from Ethereum’s 465 blockchains, but it points to a promising future.
Best Projects on Solana
As we mentioned earlier, Solana is a layer-1 smart contract network that uniquely places it for building dApps. These blockchain-based applications cover critical sub-sectors, including DeFi, NFTs, and the Metaverse.
We have curated some of the top Solana based projects:
- Saber – AMM Platform For Trading Tokens. The Saber dApp is an automated market maker (AMM) protocol and the leading cross-chain stablecoin exchange operating on the Solana blockchain. Founded in early 2020, Saber allows market makers to deposit their digital assets into liquidity pools. Through token-based incentives, automated DeFi strategies, and transaction fees, they can generate passive income. The platform also features a native token with the ticker symbol SBR. At press time, the utility token is trading at $0.28, down 1% in the last 24 hours.
- Serum (Serum Dex) – Noncustodial DEX on Solana. Serum is one of the most exciting and best Solana projects out there. Also a decentralised exchange (DEX) and AMM protocol, the platform allows other dApps to build with its on-chain central limit order book (CLOB). The project’s CLOB functionality comes with a matching engine that provides liquidity and price-time priority matching to trade orders. The platform features permissionless DeFi operations with high translation speed and low costs.
- Larix – Metaverse-based DeFi Protocol. Larix is the first Metaverse-based lending protocol on the Solana network. The platform runs on a dynamic interest rate model, allowing depositors and borrowers to tap into various collateral options. The protocol comes with a better capital-efficient risk management pool and splits its offering into three broad financial areas. Users can easily leverage the Larix platform using traditional crypto assets, stablecoins, synthetic assets, and uniquely liquid NFTs as collateral.
- Mango – DEX Platform for Derivatives. The Serum protocol powers Mango Markets. The platform directly interfaces with the DeFi derivatives market. Here, users can lend, borrow, and trade derivative financial instruments while enjoying low fees. The platform borrows the usability and liquidity of centralised exchanges and mixes them with the permissionless nature of the DeFi industry. All assets on Mango Markets are cross-collateralized and used to open leverage positions.
- Solarians – 10,000 Unique NFT Robots. The Solarians project is an NFT-facing protocol. Resident on the Solana blockchain, Solarians is a collection of 10,000 uniquely animated robots. The project touts itself as the first on-chain generative NFT protocol on Solana. To increase their uniqueness and value, Solarians features 1,800 body parts hand-drawn by the project’s artist. Additionally, some Solarian NFTs come with an Easter Egg drawn by the artist. The Solarian NFTs are currently available on Solana-based Magic Eden and DigitalEyes. They come with opening prices of 3.8 SOL to 100 SOL.
- Parrot Protocol – Non-Custodial Lending Market. The Parrot Protocol is another ground-breaking protocol that is getting investors excited. According to its documentation, Parrot Protocol is a DeFi-facing dApp that operates as a lending market. It has its native stablecoin called PAI and is geared towards making liquidity locked in DeFi protocols accessible.
- SolFarm (Tulip) – Crypto Yield Aggregator. SolFarm, now named Tulip Protocol, is a crypto yield aggregator platform that features auto-compounding vault strategies. The platform comes with a lot of juicy features, including low fees, high-speed transactions, leveraged yield farming, as well as exceptional annual percent yields (APYs). Users can also lend their crypto assets and tap on the auto-compounding strategy to generate high-yield passive incomes. The platform currently features over $1 billion in total value locked (TVL), with its TULIP token granting on-chain governance privileges to holders.
- ORCA – AMM Protocol With In-house Liquidity Pools. Orca is an AMM and DEX platform that comes with its own liquidity pools. The Solana based project allows DeFi users to swap tokens using its ORCA token. Expert users can also create their liquidity pools to trade any asset. Also on tap is Aquafarm which is a yield farming platform that allows liquidity providers (LPs) to earn trading fees.
- Star Atlas – Spaced-Themed Strategy Video Game. Star Atlas is a space-themed strategy video game. Aiming to disrupt the traditional gaming industry, Star Atlas embodies a permissionless multiplayer video game where players decide how the protocol pans out with their $POLIS tokens. Star Atlas relies heavily on the Metaverse sub-sector. The game aims to create an immersive experience for video game players. Players earn ATLAS tokens for playing while using the POLIS token for on-chain governance proceedings.
- Mercurial Finance – Liquidity Hub for Stable Assets Trading. Mercurial Finance is the Solana blockchain’s first multi-token stable swap protocol. The platform comes with low slippage for swapping stable assets. Given the increased demand for stablecoins in the crypto space, Mercurial Finance has set out to improve LP profits with dynamic fees while enabling a flexible capital allocation system.
- Audius – Crypto Music Platform. Audius is a crypto-facing music platform originally launched on the Ethereum network. The platform is the most popular crypto music app and has become a hotbed for upcoming artists to release their songs and earn in crypto. Audius has since pivoted to Solana due to increased demand.
- Solend – Decentralized Protocol for Lending and Borrowing Assets. Solend is an algorithmic and decentralised protocol that allows users to lend and borrow crypto assets. The platform allows users to earn interest and borrow 32 assets across 10 liquidity pools. This comes with low fees and high speed. LPs are rewarded with cTokens which represent their stake in a given pool.
- Degenerate Ape Academy – 10,000 Unique Ape NFTs. Degenerate Ape Academy is a Solana version of the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC). The NFT concept features 10,000 Ape NFTs, which come with 137 traits. The traits are divided into Common and Mythic.
The new decentralised economy has several well-equipped players in the field. However, Solana has an edge due to its low transaction fee, high throughput and energy-efficient framework.
Because of this, it is only expected that more users and dApps will flock to the smart contract platform to tap into the booming DeFi ecosystem.