Polygon vs Solana: what’s the difference?

Polygon vs Solana

Over the past year, it has been clear that the Ethereum network has been subject to rising gas prices. In January 2021, people could be paying more than $50 for a single transaction on the ETH network! These high gas prices meant that some users (and developers) may want to look for alternatives to the Ethereum network for building (and using) Dapps. Both Solana (SOL) and Polygon (MATIC) are potential solutions to the problem. 

They are both blockchains with which one can build his application on top of, without being subject to high gas fees like Ethereum. Both blockchains allow transactions that sometimes cost less than a penny (although the average transaction may cost a few pennies), at fast speeds. So, what is the true difference between SOL and MATIC? We will examine the difference between both blockchains, from an architectural standpoint to what it means for us as users.

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Unlike Ethereum which has a Proof of Work (PoW) architecture and is eventually moving to a Proof of Stake (PoS) architecture, Solana uses a technology called Proof of History (PoH) which at its core is just like PoS but enables a faster blockchain.

Solana has a block speed of 400 milliseconds on average, which is not much compared to Ethereum’s block speed of 15 seconds on average. This means that Solana is much more scalable, and is capable of more transactions per second (TPS) than Ethereum; while ETH can achieve roughly 15 TPS, Solana is capable of speeds up to 30,000 TPS currently. Solana is also a Layer 1 (L1) blockchain, meaning that it is the base blockchain layer on top of which tokens, NFTs and Dapps can be built on top of.

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Polygon’s architecture is very different. To start with, it is a Layer 2 (L2) blockchain, meaning that it is built on top of Ethereum and uses Ethereum as a base layer to settle all of its final transactions. This architecture comes in three layers:

  • Staking smart contracts on Ethereum
  • Heimdall (Proof of Stake layer)
  • Bor (Block producer layer)

These three layers and their utility are best explained by the following diagram:

Polygon vs Solana

Polygon Architecture via [Polygon]

This diagram is complicated, but it shows the core concept that Polygon is built on top of Ethereum as an L2 blockchain, and is not its own independent blockchain.

Blockchain developers tend to enjoy building on L2 blockchains because they use the security and trust of the Ethereum network while not being subject to Ethereum’s high gas fees. L2 blockchains also assist in decongesting the base layer, enabling the entire network to run more smoothly.

Programming language

Just like Ethereum, all smart contracts on Polygon are coded using Solidity. Polygon is EVM-compatible, so any developer who has developed something on Ethereum in the past will know how to program on Polygon.

Both use the exact same language and syntax, so whatever was deployed on the ETH blockchain can also be deployed on the MATIC blockchain with ease. Furthermore, the EVM-compatibility of MATIC means that any Defi wallet which works with ETH should in theory work with MATIC. The best example is of course Metamask, but most wallets that work with ETH have an option to switch to the Polygon mainnet chain with ease.

Solana, on the other hand, is not at all EMV-compatible. Solana developers use a language called Rust, which in programming terms is great because it uses less memory compared to Solidity.

Rust is a programming language that is much older than Solidity, and therefore technically there are more Rust developers in the world compared to Solidity developers. That being said, Solana smart contract developers are considered tougher to find than Solidity smart contract developers. In general, it is a challenge to find a web3.0 developer, as the space is so new and there are so few qualified devs out there.

The last element to remember for Solana is that since it is not EVM-compatible, people tend to need to open a completely new Defi wallet in order to use Solana.

The most downloaded defi wallet that works with Solana is the Phantom wallet, and the most downloaded wallet that works with Polygon (and ETH) is the Metamask wallet. Downloading a new wallet may seem like a small extra step, but it is enough to perhaps deter newcomers from trying out certain Dapps built on Solana.

Bottom Line

Solana and Polygon are different blockchains for many reasons. Solana is L1, whereas Polygon is L2. Solana is not EVM-compatible, while Polygon is. Solana smart contracts are coded with Rust, but Polygon smart contracts are coded with Solidity. While it is true that both blockchains benefit from fast transaction times and cheaper gas fees, the architecture and purpose of each blockchain is different.

Overall, most analysts agree that both the Solana and the Polygon ecosystems are expanding rapidly, therefore it may be wise to watch what happens to both of these blockchains. Most developers will agree that it is not the blockchain that matters, but the applications that are built on top of the blockchain.

Many hedge funds and financial advisors state that it is never wise to put all of your eggs in one basket, therefore it may make sense to diversify your crypto holdings, right?

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