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Ethereum Comparison

An overview of Solana and how it compares and contrasts with Ethereum, Solidity, and the EVM

We’re in this together!

Alright Solidity devs, it’s about time we’ve had a heart to heart or shall we say “Sol to SOL” conversation about Solana development. First, this is not meant to convince anyone that one blockchain is better than another, this isn’t about maximalism. This is about learning from each other and getting into the finer technical details about how the two platforms are different. This guide aims to be a resource for experienced Solidity developers who decide to build an application on Solana.

Why is Solana so different?

By far the biggest reason the development experience between Solana and Ethereum is so different is due to their account model designs. Before we dig into those, it’s helpful to understand why Solana’s account model was designed so differently from Ethereum. Unlike Ethereum, which is designed to run on consumer grade hardware, Solana was designed to optimize transaction throughput on high-end multi-core machines. The Solana team noticed a trend that the number of cores in computers is growing exponentially. In order to take advantage of all these cores and attempt to future-proof the protocol, the Solana team designed transactions to be easily parallelized.

Account model design

So what is actually meant by the “account model” of a blockchain? Well, when an on-chain program is called on a blockchain like Solana or Ethereum, the smart contract needs a way to track certain state like token balances, who owns an NFT, or who the current highest bidder in auction is. All of this state is stored inside accounts on the blockchain and is replicated perfectly across all the nodes in a cluster.

On Ethereum, each smart contract is an account which has its own storage. The smart contract’s code specifies how to make sense of that storage. On Solana, an on-chain program is a completely immutable account and its storage is only used to store executable byte code. So where do Solana programs store state? In other non-executable accounts! In fact, each Solana account specifies a program owner which is the only program allowed to make modifications to the account.

Wait, so why does Solana force programs to store data inside other accounts, doesn’t this add extra complexity? Well, yes sure but it is also the key part that helps enable parallelization.

Transaction Parallelization

Each Solana transaction must list all of the accounts that will be either read from, written to, or invoked while being processed. With all this information listed up front, Solana validators know ahead of time which transactions can be processed at the same time without conflicting with each other. To fully take advantage of this parallelization, on-chain programs themselves can split their state across many accounts so that they can be parallelized too. For example, the Serum Dex program has separate storage accounts for each new market and so transactions on one market won’t slow down transactions on another market because they can all be run in parallel.

Design Constraints

Solana’s design and constraints force developers to carefully consider the design of their own on-chain programs. Learning how to write Solana programs has an arguably steeper learning curve than Solidity smart contracts. But don’t forget the upside! By doing a bit more work upfront, Solana transactions can be processed very efficiently. This results in both higher throughput and lower fees. But this isn’t to say Solana is always the solution. As developers, we make tradeoffs all the time when choosing our tools. The development experience with Solidity on the EVM is much more flexible than on Solana without all the overhead of figuring out which accounts will be accessed and which contracts will be called.

1 - Accounts

Major differences between Ethereum and Solana accounts

On Solana, programs have state, but that state must be stored inside separate accounts. In order to differentiate which account is used as storage for which program, each account has an owner field. The Solana VM restricts most account modifications to the owner of the account but it freely allows any program to read storage from an account that it doesn’t own. This contrasts with the EVM where a smart contract cannot read the storage of another contract, the contract must expose a public api for reading storage information that may be useful.

To be continued…

2 - Transactions

Major differences between Ethereum and Solana transactions

Ethereum supports a few different types of transactions which can be created using a common set of parameters. These include ETH transfers, smart contract calls, and new contract deploys. On Solana, all transactions are treated the same and so all call on-chain programs (Solana has special programs for deploying contracts and transferring SOL).

Let’s dig into the differences by looking at the structure of a transaction from each chain…

Ethereum Transaction Structure

Field Description
nonce Number equal to the count of sender’s processed transactions.
gasPrice The amount of Wei to be paid per unit of gas.
gasLimit Max gas that can be consumed while processing the transaction.
to The recipient of ether and smart contract to be called.
value The amount of ether to transfer to the to address.
v, r, s Represents the signature and used to recover the sender

Solana Transaction Structure

Field Description
signatures List of signatures.
accounts List of accounts (read-only / read-write)
recentBlockhash Blockhash of recently produced block used as nonce.
instructions List of instructions which each call an on-chain program.

Despite their structural differences, these transactions have a very similar goal: calling a smart contract. Let’s walk through the fields to understand each approach.

Mapping Ethereum transaction fields to Solana


On Ethereum, the sender is the address of the keypair which signed this transaction. Inside a smart contract, we know the msg.sender is an address that approved of the smart contract call because we trust Ethereum nodes to first verify the transaction signature. Note: in Ethereum, the sender is actually recovered from the signature itself.

Also, the sender of a transaction is the account which will pay gas fees for the smart contract. By signing a transaction, the sender authorizes payment of gas fees.

On Solana, the first account in the transaction accounts list is roughly the same thing as the sender in an Ethereum transaction. It is the account that will be used to pay transaction fees and Solana will verify that the first signature in the transaction signatures list was produced by that account.


On Ethereum, each transaction contains a single signature. This signature is roughly the same as the first signature in a Solana transaction’s list of signatures. So why does Solana allow multiple signatures? Well, imagine you are using a multisig wallet and need to create a transaction which shows that multiple keypairs have signed and approve the transaction. On Ethereum, you would need to pass signatures inside transaction data and verify them inside a smart contract. On Solana, signatures can be appended to the transaction signatures list and, since Solana nodes use a GPU to verify signatures, will be verified much more efficiently than they would inside a program.


On Ethereum, each transaction includes a nonce which is used to prevent a single transaction from being processed multiple times. Every time Ethereum processes a transaction, it requires that the transaction nonce value is equal to the sender’s total transaction count. So if you have sent 10 transactions, your next transaction will have a nonce equal to 10 and after Ethereum checks the nonce and processes the transaction, it will increment the your transaction count to 11 and wait for a transaction with that nonce.

Solana solves this problem in another way. Relatively old transactions cannot be processed again because each transaction must specify a “recent” blockhash to be processed. Re-processing recent transactions is avoided by requiring each node to keep a record of all the transactions for recent blocks. So transactions with an old recentBlockhash are easily ignored and other transactions are ignored if they are already included in the recently processed transaction list.


Ethereum transactions use to to specify an address to send ETH to or a smart contract to call.

Solana transactions can actually list multiple smart contracts to call and so they don’t have a single to field. Instead, they may list one or more “instructions” which each represent a smart contract call. Each instruction specifies its own smart contract address and the input parameters for the call.


Ethereum transactions are always explicit about how much ether may be sent from a user’s account when making a transfer or invoking a smart contract. This amount is specified in the value field of a transaction and does not include the gas cost of the transaction.

Solana transactions don’t have an equivalent property which specifies how much SOL can be transferred. Instead, each on-chain program has authority to withdraw lamports from any account it owns. By default, each account is owned by the system program which requires an account to sign the transaction to perform a withdraw. Other programs may define their own rules and typically support a withdraw or close account instruction which requires the account to sign.

gasPrice and gasLimit

Every operation in the EVM has an associated gas cost which must be paid by the transaction sender. Since transaction throughput is limited by the amount of gas allowed in each block, gas price provides a way for transaction senders to bid a higher price in order to be included in a block more quickly. Any transaction with a gas price that’s too low will get ignored by miners because they want to maximize their earnings in each block they mine. Gas limit is specified to prevent a buggy smart contract from using way more gas than you intended and causing lost funds.

The Solana VM doesn’t have the dynamic gas model for transactions. Instead, it has a fixed maximum compute cost which currently cannot be adjusted. This means that each transaction roughly has the fixed cost and it naturally puts pressure on developers to optimize on-chain code to fit within the system limits. Transactions do have fees on Solana, though. Currently transaction fee calculation is very simple, each signature in a transaction costs an additional 5000 lamports (there are 10^9 lamports in one SOL).


Ethereum transactions include a single data field for an unlimited size byte array. This data is passed directly to a smart contract which if written with Solidity, will be decoded into a function and its parameters.

Solana transactions may include many “sub-transactions” called instructions. Each instruction has a data field which is used in the same way as an Ethereum transaction’s data field. However, note that an Solana instruction’s data is limited in size. The entire encoded size of a Solana transaction cannot exceed 1232 bytes. This constraint allows Solana to optimize its networking layer for quickly passing transactions between nodes (smaller packets = less delay).

Understanding Solana transactions


Each Solana transaction allows for one or more signatures so that they can be efficiently verified by Solana validator GPU’s. This means multiple accounts can easily authorize operations in on-chain programs in the same transaction. This contracts with Ethereum where any additional signatures beyond the sender must be verified inside a smart contract.


Solana transactions must include the blockhash of a recently produced block. Blockhashes are considered recent if they were produced in about the past 60 seconds. This field is used a nonce to ensure that no transaction can be processed more than once by the blockchain.


Solana transactions must explicitly list each account that on-chain programs may read or write to. By specifying all of the accounts up front, Solana validators can process transactions in parallel without fear of two transactions modifying the same account. It is important that high-throughput applications split up state into multiple accounts because if each transaction modifies the same account, transactions will have to be processed serially.

Accounts may be annotated as read-write or read-only accounts. If an on-chain program modifies a read-only account, the transaction will be reverted. The first account will always be read-write since it is used to cover transaction fees.

Solana’s account access list is similar to the optional access list in EIP-2930.


Solana transactions can be thought of as a bundle of Ethereum transactions. Each Solana transaction can include one or more instructions which each specify an on-chain program address and inputs. There is no explicit limit on the size of an instruction but note that the total serialized size of a transaction cannot exceed 1232 bytes. The compute limit is fixed per instruction so each on-chain program should be optimized to use a small amount of compute units or be split across multiple instructions for expensive operations.

Each instruction specifies the address of the on-chain program, a list of account inputs, and a byte array. Since Solana on-chain programs don’t have their own mutable storage, they must read and store data in separate accounts which are loaded for the on-chain program when invoked.