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Cardano vs. Solana: Which Blockchain Is Better?

As two of the top-performing assets throughout 2021, many people are evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of Cardano vs Solana to decipher which blockchain is best. Some focus on the profit-making of Cardano vs Solana, while others look at Cardano vs Solana from validators’ perspectives and the speed to market. But, which one is the best blockchain?

Both Cardano and Solana are at the forefront of Web3 technologies and development. That’s why we put them against eachother “Cardano vs Solana” to see what their main differences are. For readers who would like a deeper understanding of Web3, save our ‘What is Web3?’ article for later! Or check out our ‘What are dApps?’ article to learn about the foundations of the blockchain industry. No matter your experience, location, or age, Moralis Academy is the best place to start your crypto journey today!  

Cardano vs. Solana: An Introduction 

In this ‘Cardano vs Solana’ article, we will explore both blockchain projects in detail. First, we will cover an overview of each projects’ fundamentals. Then, we will make a breakdown comparison of Cardano vs Solana. This way, we provide unbiased, well-rounded, educational material for our readers to make their own decisions when determining preferences between Cardano vs Solana.  

Cardano Overview 

Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson first designed the concept of Cardano in 2015. Then, the Cardano network launched in 2017. The Cardano network comprises various reputable global parties together embracing innovative blockchain solutions for a next-generation smart contract-enabled blockchain, Cardano. The Cardano Foundation is the registered institution and legal owner of the blockchain. Additionally, IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong), run by Hoskinson alongside Jeremy Wood, provides valuable research and insights into the development. Also, the Cardano network includes EMUGO to offer commercial opportunities for the project.  

Blog Cardano Logo

With its native asset ‘ADA’ sitting comfortably as a top ten cryptocurrency for over a year, Cardano operates stringent testing throughout the project’s development roadmap prior to launching each phase. The key five development milestones on the roadmap are Byron, Shelley, Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire. Each stage takes its name from an influential mathematician or computer scientist. Moreover, each milestone brings the Cardano blockchain closer to being a fully operational, scalable development platform for blockchain developers. Further, the engineering community behind Cardano, including IOHK, focuses on the speed and cost to users, along with the energy efficiency of the blockchain. 

The Cardano network recognizes that for blockchains to become durable and sustainable for mass adoption, it must be mindful of the energy impact of the Cardano blockchain. Accordingly, the Cardano blockchain operates using a novel Ouroboros Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism.  

Ouroboros Consensus Mechanism 

Following years of academic and peer-reviewed research, the Ouroboros consensus model was introduced. Designed with energy efficiency in mind, Charles Hoskinson states Ouroboros is 1.6 million times more energy-efficient than Bitcoin. Also, Ouroboros holds the title as the first provably secure Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus protocol. The novel consensus mechanism improves the security risks of previous Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus models. 

Blog Cardano Ouroboros Consensus Mechanism

Using a combination of mathematical game theory, combinatorics, and cryptography, the Cardano blockchain upholds a provably secure, sustainable, and integral community network of nodes. In turn, this offers a scalable permissionless global network adequate to facilitate new markets with minimal energy costs. 

Cardano (ADA) 

The native asset of the Cardano blockchain is ‘ADA’ – named after the first recognized computer programmer, Ada Lovelace. People refer to the asset as solely ‘ADA,’ even though it is technically a coin as the native asset of a blockchain. As a multi-utility asset, ADA is crucial to the security of the network. The protocol uses ADA to provide economic incentives for honest behavior from the nodes in the network. Additionally, end-users of applications on the network will need to pay the computational gas requirements for sending transactions in ADA too. Plus, a requirement to become a node includes staking a certain amount of ADA as collateral. At the time of writing, more than 70% of the ADA token supply is being staked. This shows adoption, confidence, and value in the project. Reducing the available supply increases scarcity. With continued demand for utility, this suggests positive price action for ADA.  

Blog ADA Coin

ADA also holds some unique capabilities for development opportunities. On Ethereum, developers use the ERC-20 token standard as the framework for designing and deploying a token on the blockchain. On the Cardano blockchain, developers can deploy Cardano tokens using ‘ADA’ as the base unit. Cardano tokens have the same utilities as the ADA coin asset. However, users can not use Cardano ADA tokens to pay for gas or earn rewards.  

At the time of writing, Cardano (ADA) sits at $1.43, according to CoinGecko, with a market cap of $46 billion (rank number five).  

Solana Overview 

Another popular cryptocurrency that stormed into the top ten crypto blockchains by market cap in 2021 is Solana. Operating with a truly unique and innovative infrastructure, Solana is one of the fastest blockchains in the world. The project processes blocks every 400 milliseconds enabling sub-second transaction finality. Moreover, the Solana Foundation and development team want to ensure the lowest possible cost to end-users and developers. Accordingly, the average cost per transaction on the Solana blockchain is $0.00025, meaning users will need to process around 4000 transactions to exceed the cost of $1. As such, this makes Solana one of the fastest and cheapest blockchains available in the industry. Solana, as its focus, wants to demonstrate the abilities of a layer-1 blockchain that can infinitely and proportionately scale with network bandwidth and adoption.

Blog Solana Logo

Solana ticks all three boxes for solutions to the blockchain trilemma: security, scalability, and decentralization. This means blockchain developers can deploy scalable, low-cost decentralized applications (dApps) with full flexibility to drive mass adoption. Moreover, Solana provides a wealth of development tools to help developers get started. Additionally, developers can seamlessly integrate existing applications on other blockchains on the Solana blockchain. Following the integration, Solana will take care of all scaling requirements to enable the dApp to grow. 

Currently, Solana hosts the fastest-growing ecosystem across the blockchain industry. Solana’s novel architecture accommodates an array of different Web3 decentralized applications (dApps). As such, Solana facilitates more than 400 dApps covering decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and many more.  

Solana was designed from the ground up, introducing a unique blend of eight core protocols with a focus on scaling without compromise on security and decentralization. This includes ‘Sealevel,’ ‘Pipeline,’ ‘Cloudbreak,’ ‘Turbine,’ ‘Gulf Stream,’ ‘Archivers,’ ‘Tower BFT,’ and ‘Proof-of-History (PoH).’ 

Proof-of-History (PoH) 

The team behind Solana has introduced an innovative form of timestamps for transactions to enable quick and reliable synchronization across the node network for transaction validation. Traditionally, the Bitcoin blockchain offers a ‘block height’ instead of a timestamp as a form of a Verifiable Delay Function (VDF) to cryptographically confirm a certain amount of time has passed. Using a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm like Bitcoin means blocks are processed over large periods to reduce the probability of multiple nodes validating a block at the same time. While a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism negates this issue, until Solana, there was no reliable way of determining the order of transactions for the nodes to validate. As a solution, Solana introduces the Proof-of-History (PoH) to ensure cryptographic proof of when a transaction was submitted to the network.  

Blog Solana Proof-of-History

This means if thousands of users submit transactions at once, the nodes can process these in the order they were sent down to the millisecond. Solana uses a granular Verifiable Delay Function (VDF) to generate a stack of proofs. Each proof can confirm both previous proofs existed and a precise duration of time that has passed between the prior and current proof. The Proof-of-History (PoH) protocol itself is not a consensus mechanism. However, it supports and enhances the existing Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism. 

Solana (SOL) 

Solana’s native asset, SOL, is the top-performing asset of 2021, seeing a 13,000% increase throughout the year. As a result, Solana (SOL) has hit mainstream media headlines attracting global attention and a tremendous uptick in adoption.  

Blog SOL Coin Image

Similar to Cardano’s ADA, Solana (SOL) is a native blockchain asset and, strictly speaking, a coin. Also, SOL is a multi-utility asset fundamental to the security and operations of the network. Network nodes receive incentivization for honest participation receiving rewards in SOL. Moreover, supporting the Proof-of-Stake mechanism enables up to 50,000 transactions per second (TPS), scalable up to 100,000 TPS. As the name of the consensus model suggests, one must stake a certain amount of SOL assets as collateral to become a node. This will consequently be ‘slashed’ if any malicious network activity occurs. At the time of writing, just over 77% of the SOL token supply is being staked. Resultantly, the Solana blockchain is one of the most secure and active networks in the industry. Moreover, with so much SOL securing the network, this drives up demand for the increasingly scarcely available SOL token.  

Currently, Solana (SOL) sits at $139, down from an all-time high of $259, according to CoinGecko. This is a tremendous increase from an average of $1.75 in January 2021. 

Cardano vs. Solana Breakdown  

Now that we understand the operations and unique advantages of both blockchains, we’re going to break down the pros and cons of Cardano vs Solana. This article is not biased towards one project or the other. Accordingly, we provide a well-balanced evaluation of both projects, for our readers to decide their own preferences.  

Blog Cardano vs Solana

For a deep dive into the fundamentals of blockchain, see our Blockchain & Bitcoin 101 course to discover the foundations of this cutting-edge technology. Then, our Ethereum 101 course is a fantastic next step to learn about smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps). Also, our ‘Top Games’ article offers readers insights into the most popular crypto games currently active. Be a part of the crypto revolution today with Moralis Academy!  

Cardano Pros  

  • The Cardano blockchain infrastructure comprises two layers: the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and the Cardano Computational Layer (CCL). The CCL is responsible for the governance and deployment of smart contracts and applications. On the other hand, the CSL handles all the network’s transactions. Conveniently, both the CCL and CSL seamlessly interoperate with zero friction surrounding communications. Also, the two layers can function autonomously. This means that Cardano users can still interact with the network even while one layer is experiencing updates.  
Blog Cardano Pros
  • Cardano uses scaling infrastructure that allows for a continuous addition of nodes without compromising on security or speed. Moreover, as the network grows, theoretically, so will its speed.  
  • Cardano is introducing a novel sidechain protocol to extend interoperability with other networks. Using developments from Kiayias, Miller, and Zindros, Cardano presents the KMZ sidechain protocol. This will enable “secure and non-interactive movement of funds from [the Cardano Settlement Layer] (CSL) to any Cardano Computation Layer or other blockchain supporting the protocol.” 

Solana Pros 

  • Solana’s Proof-of-History (PoH) is a valuable innovation in the industry. Moreover, Solana uses a Tower Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) protocol to support the PoH, to enable PoH-optimized version of a practical Byzantine Fault Tolerant (pBFT) consensus model.  
Blog Solana Pros
  • Solana uses a protocol to negate the use of mempools called ‘GulfStream’. This automatically forwards transactions to nodes, resultantly removing the risk of transactions getting ‘lost’ or redirected to a mempool. In turn, this helps drastically speed up the confirmation times on the network.  
  • Solana offers one of the fastest and cheapest blockchain experiences in the industry. Moreover, it hosts hundreds of decentralized applications (dApps) on its network as the fastest-growing ecosystem, showing no signs of slowing down.  

Cardano Cons 

  • As the Cardano team ensures rigorous testing and development of peer-reviewed research prior to launching to the public, not all advantages are available yet. According to the Cardano roadmap, the project will soon be entering the Basho Era to introduce scaling facilities, including the sidechain protocols. Following this, the final phase, the Voltaire Era, will enable on-chain governance and treasury systems for self-sustainable development of the blockchain.  

Solana Cons 

  • While Solana may offer some of the fastest transaction speeds and cost-efficiency without compromise to security or decentralization, an area with less development focus is interoperability. The project offers a range of tutorials, toolkits, and resources for deploying applications on the Solana network. However, for the project to grow with the adoption of blockchain in the coming years, it will likely need to implement some form of interoperability standard to connect with the broader blockchain industry.  

Cardano vs. Solana Summary 

Over the last year, the Cardano native asset ADA is up by 900%, while Solana (SOL) has seen a staggering 13,000% increase. Both are performing head-and-shoulders above thousands of other blockchains in the industry. As such, there has been an increase in Google searches for a breakdown between Cardano vs Solana. 

Blog Cardano vs Solana (ADA and SOL Logo)

As mentioned in another article about Cardano vs Solana, it is best to gain a comprehensive understanding of how each ecosystem works and their individual innovative features. Both projects implement cutting-edge technologies and are at the forefront of the blockchain revolution. At the same time, each project boasts its own advantages. Cardano utilizes peer-reviewed academic research and is introducing novel protocols for a secure decentralized, scalable, and interoperable blockchain. However, the project is still in its development phases. Conversely, the Solana mainnet hosts a variety of applications and offers one of the fastest and cheapest blockchains in the industry.  

We hope our Cardano vs Solana comparison article has helped educate you surrounding two of the most popular blockchain projects. If you would like to learn more about the diverse types of decentralized applications (dApps) and opportunities in the blockchain industry, see our ‘What is Metaverse?’ article. Also, our ‘What are NFTs?’ article provides an excellent guide to the utility and application of non-fungible tokens. Plus, our Bitcoin Monetary Revolution course shows students how the concept of money and currency began. Fall down the blockchain rabbit hole with Moralis Academy today! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @MoralisAcademy! We’d love to hear your thoughts about Cardano vs Solana! 

Ivan On Tech

Written by Ivan on Tech

January 21, 2022

Written by IvanOnTech
January 21, 2022
Ivan is an international speaker, educator, developer and data scientists. Ivan’s YouTube channel Ivan on Tech has become an international phenomenon, spreading blockchain knowledge all over the world and accumulating over 450,000 subscribers.

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