Cardano vs Solana: A Quick Overview and Comparison

Cardano vs Solana: A Quick Overview and Comparison

Created 1yr ago, last updated 4mo ago

An overview and comparison of two of the most popular blockchain platforms of 2021. Wondering which one is better? Read more!

Cardano vs Solana: A Quick Overview and Comparison

Table of Contents

Cardano is a third-generation smart contract-enabled protocol that facilitates the creation of a Decentralized Finance (DeFi) ecosystem. In some ways, it is similar to Solana because developers can create custom applications for their users. Despite it being touted as a third-generation blockchain, it aims to solve the same problems as Solana does in terms of scalability. What makes Cardano primarily different from it is that it is based on what is known as the Ouroboros consensus mechanism, which is further based on peer-reviewed research. While Cardano is an extremely capable blockchain protocol, Solana has become increasingly popular because of its much higher transaction throughput.

In this article, we will be reviewing the differences between both the blockchain protocols and understand what makes them unique. Let's dive in!


Cardano was created by the co-founder of Ethereum, Charles Hoskinson, who founded Input Output (IOHK), a blockchain research company, in 2015. Cardano was a brainchild of this organization and was co-led by Jeremy Wood. The aim of the organization was to build blockchain infrastructural solutions for private and public clients. Perhaps the mechanics behind the protocol is one of its most interesting aspects. It aims to increase its transactional throughput by adopting a technique known as RINA (Recursive InterNetwork Architecture), which splits the main network into several subnetworks. These subnetworks then communicate amongst themselves.

Let's explore the basics of the blockchain.

  • Consensus Mechanism: As already outlined above, Cardano uses the Ouroboros consensus mechanism, which is a verification mechanism developed by the Cardano Foundation. As part of this mechanism, users are permitted to stake their ADA (the native token used within the Cardano ecosystem) and participate in the transaction validation process. Users can either run their own staking pools or can choose to delegate their ADA to an existing one. What distinguishes this mechanism from, namely, the PoS is that the users' stake needs to be present only when the "snapshot" of the network is being taken. Before and after that snapshot, they are free to move their staked ADA around and participate within DeFi. This is not the case with traditional PoS, as once staked those coins can only be withdrawn after the unbinding period is over.
  • Programmability: A key feature, which was lacking until this year, on Cardano was programmability. Until the Alonzo hard fork (which was completed just a few months ago), the blockchain was only being used for transferring value from one point to the other. With the smart contracts functionality launched this year, however, there has been a resurging interest in the blockchain as people are now realizing the potential it has. Now, we are hoping to see the DeFi ecosystem develop rapidly on Cardano, which was thus far nowhere to be found.
  • Upgrades: One of the most prominent upgrades to the protocol is said to be to its base layer, which will soon be split into a Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and Cardano Computation Layer (CCL). The aim of this split is to add an additional layer that facilitates the understanding of why transactions are being transferred. This helps in creating a more transparent and trackable blockchain.
While the Cardano certainly stands out as a revolutionary peer-researched and built blockchain, it has had its fair share of challenges. One of them being the delayed upgrades, which has often delayed the overall implementation of the project. The fact that smart contracts functionality recently got implemented, when there are many blockchain protocols providing that already, questions Cardano's presence in the larger ecosystem.


Solana is considered a Layer 1 blockchain protocol that utilizes Proof of History (PoH) as its consensus mechanism. It is based around the validation of the time difference between two events on the blockchain. This mechanism runs prior to the Proof-of-Stake consensus, thereby increasing the transactional throughput on the network to over 50,000 transactions per second and is scalable up to 100,000 transactions per second as well. Since all this computational power is easily achieved at the base layer of the blockchain, Solana does not require Layer-2 scaling solutions.

You can learn about the unique PoH of Solana here.

Here are some crucial features of Solana that makes it more prominent:

  • It has 1000+ validators in the network, a number that has jumped by almost 100% within a few months.
  • Over 75% of the $SOL tokens are staked, which means that the network is currently extremely resilient to any attacks.

The DeFi ecosystem on Solana has been growing at a much faster rate than on Cardano. This is naturally so given that it speeds up the overall transactional throughput. There are currently 200+ projects that have already been created on the ecosystem, with many more in the pipeline.

Its TVL too has been steadily rising.

The Rising TVL on Solana
Recent developments like FTX.US announcing the creation of a dedicated NFT marketplace on the blockchain is also helping it gain traction in comparison to its competitors. Given that a major exchange, like FTX, is attempting to create a dedicated marketplace on the protocol is telling of the protocol's popularity in the first place.

The Bottom Line

There is no doubt that Cardano is an extremely capable blockchain, and despite all years of delayed development, the founders have been exceedingly focused on decentralization. However, it surely has failed to make an impact in the ecosystem like Solana has. The latter has conducted various hackathons aimed at attracting both developers and users to the platform. Cardano, too, has plans of accelerating the growth of the DeFi ecosystem.

However, given that Solana offers high transactional throughput at lower costs, it is more preferred in the ecosystem. This could, however, change.

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