Will Firedancer Make Solana the Most Scalable L1?

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Firedancer is an upcoming validator client software for Solana (SOL) that is expected to improve scalability, decentralization, and the robustness of the network.

The development is touted as one of the most important innovations in the Solana ecosystem, with early testing results showcasing Firedancer’s potential to process over 1 million transactions per second (TPS) on Solana.

In this article, we breakdown the technical jargon to help you understand what Firedancer on Solana is and the hype around it.

Key Takeaways

  • Firedancer is an independent validator client developed by a crypto infrastructure and proprietary trading company called Jump Trading.
  • The introduction of Firedancer will improve Solana’s validator client diversity and will enable scaling via sharding on Solana.
  • Firedancer is expected to launch on testnet in the second half of 2024.

What is Firedancer on Solana?

First, let’s understand what a validator client is.

A validator client is software run by validator nodes in a blockchain network. Validator client software is at the heart of proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain functionality, facilitating transaction execution and enabling the network of nodes to achieve consensus.

According to Solana’s Validator Health Report from October 2023, Solana had two validator clients. The first validator client was developed by Solana Labs. At that time, around 69% of stakes ran through the original Solana Labs client.

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A validator client developed by JitoLabs accounted for the remaining 31% of validator stakes on Solana.

Now, Firedancer — an independent validator client developed by a crypto infrastructure company called Jump Trading — will become available to Solana validators soon.

How Will Firedancer Make Solana more Resilient and Decentralized?

The introduction of Firedancer will improve Solana’s validator client diversity.

Having a diverse set of independently-developed validator clients is vital to a blockchain network’s decentralization and security as relying on a single client can make a network susceptible to attacks and bugs.

Here are the key reasons how Firedancer will make Solana more resilient and decentralized:

  1. Bugs – Nodes distributed across many clients will ensure that a bug in an individual client does not halt the entire network.
  2. Attacks – Validator client diversity is seen as a key line of defense against attacks that target a particular client. Low client diversity risks can result in hacks and attacks such as denial-of-service attacks.
  3. Finality – Bugs in a validator client that is used to stake a sizable portion of cryptocurrencies in a PoS blockchain can prevent validators from finalizing transactions and achieving consensus.

In a sense, Firefancer makes a difference simply by existing.

Solana said in its Health Report:

“Validator client diversity is important for the long-term health and functioning of the network. With multiple validator clients, the risk of one bug or harmful piece of code in a single client is mitigated by the existence of other independent clients, which are unlikely to have the same bug or malware attack, making a total network outage less likely.”

At the time of writing, Ethereum (ETH) had the most diverse set of validator clients out of all existing PoS blockchains. According to Ethernodes.org, Ethereum mainnet validators used geth (46.7%), nethermind (35.6%), besu (7.5%), erigon (7.2%), and reth (2.8%), among others.

How Will Firedancer Help Scale Solana?

Existing is one thing — but naturally, being good at its job is just as important.

The Firedancer client is a brand new Solana validator aimed at improving on the efficiencies of the original validator client developed by Solana Labs.

“It’s a chance for a post-facto rewrite of a code that has been put together very quickly and very impressively over the course of three years of a hyperscale project,” said Kanav Kariya, president of Firedancer developer Jump Trading.

“Solana network has a lot of clever design elements that were designed rather intuitively and through clever pieces of engineering, but don’t really fully specified due to the intense time pressures under which the code base was built.

“This is an opportunity for us to clearly specify the entire protocol from scratch, to analyze every design decision that’s been made, and to document and benchmark every piece of the software, and to get a fresh crack,” added Kariya.

According to blockchain development platform Alchemy, there are four key ways in which the Firedancer client will address existing limitations and improve upon the legacy Solana validator client:

  1. Enhanced transaction processing – Validators using the Firedancer client will be able to support a high number of concurrent transactions resulting in faster processing times and high throughput. A key reason behind this improvement is the use of memory-efficient C and C++ programming languages to develop Firedancer.
  2. Sharding support – Firedancer will enable scaling via sharding on Solana. Sharding is a horizontal scaling method that divides a network into multiple smaller chains known as shards.
  3. Improved networking – The use of techniques such as compression and batching in Firedancer is expected to reduce the amount of data needed to be transmitted over the network of nodes, resulting in optimized networking and peer-to-peer communication.

Alchemy identified the risk associated with newer technologies and the time node operators spend learning how to use the new Firedancer clients as key disadvantages of the Firedancer client on Solana.

Elsewhere crypto research firm Messari said that Firedancer could unlock new markets and improve DeFi experience on Solana.

About Jump Trading: Developers of Firedancer

Let’s talk about the developer behind Firedancer, Jump Trading, whose reputation as a leading crypto infrastructure developer has got the Solana community excited over Firedancer.

Jump Trading is a proprietary trading firm that specializes in developing algorithmic and high-frequency trading strategies

The industry is hoping that Jump can use its experience in developing large-scale global trading infrastructure to build a validator client software that can supercharge Solana’s scalability and resilience.

“Solana mainnet block production has stalled on four occasions, requiring manual intervention of hundreds of validator operators to perform a recovery. This slew of outages has called the reliability of the Solana network into question,” said Jump.

“However, we believe that the Solana protocol itself does not require any fundamental redesign. Rather, downtime can be attributed to failures in software modules causing consensus issues — some of which have also affected other blockchain networks in the past.”

Solana Firedancer Release Date

Jump first announced plans to develop the Firedancer validator client in August 2022.

The first Firedancer validator to go into testnet was nicknamed Frankendancer by Jump. In July 2024, Jump announced a $1 million bug bounty program for developers who find bugs in Frankendancer.

During the Solana Breakpoint 2023 event, Dan Albert, executive director at Solana Foundation, said Firedancer is expected to launch on testnet in the second half of 2024.

Solana Firedancer’s release date on mainnet is expected to be sometime in 2025.

The Bottom Line

Firedancer builds on the modern, performance-focused design of Solana to help it become the most scalable layer one (L1) blockchain in the world.

By 2025, Firedancer development will enter its third year. The Solana community will be waiting patiently for its mainnet launch, knowing that developers will take their time to perfect the product before making it available to the public.

FAQs

How will Firedancer improve Solana’s performance?

Why are validator clients important for Solana?

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Mensholong Lepcha
Crypto & Blockchain Writer
Mensholong Lepcha
Crypto & Blockchain Writer

Mensholong is an experienced crypto and blockchain journalist, now a full-time writer at Techopedia. He has previously contributed news coverage and in-depth market analysis to Capital.com, StockTwits, XBO, and other publications. He started his writing career at Reuters in 2017, covering global equity markets. In his free time, Mensholong loves watching football, finding new music, and buying BTC and ETH for his crypto portfolio.