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The Jito Impact: Is Jito Saving Solana? | Jon Charbonneau

By Lightspeed

Published on 2024-03-14

Explore how Jito's decision to suspend their mempool affects Solana, the state of MEV, and the evolving landscape of L1s, L2s, and L3s in cryptocurrency.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!

The Jito Impact: Revolutionizing Solana's Ecosystem

In a recent episode of the Lightspeed podcast, hosts Mert and Dan were joined by Jon Charbonneau to discuss the latest developments in the Solana ecosystem, particularly focusing on Jito's recent decision to suspend their mempool function. This move has sent ripples through the cryptocurrency world, raising questions about the future of Maximum Extractable Value (MEV) on Solana and the broader implications for blockchain scalability and user experience.

The Jito Decision: A Game-Changing Move

Jito Labs, a key player in the Solana ecosystem, recently announced the suspension of the mempool offered through their Jito Block Engine. This decision was made in response to negative externalities that were impacting Solana users. To understand the significance of this move, it's crucial to delve into the mechanics of how Jito's mempool functioned and why its suspension is such a pivotal moment for Solana.

Understanding Mempools and MEV

Mempools, or memory pools, are a fundamental component of many blockchain networks, including Ethereum. They act as a waiting area for transactions before they are included in a block. On Ethereum, this system allows for the practice of MEV, where miners or validators can reorder transactions to maximize their profits.

Solana, by design, doesn't have a traditional mempool. Instead, it uses a continuous block building process. Jito introduced a discrete auction process to this system, effectively adding a mempool to their Solana client. This innovation opened up possibilities for MEV on Solana, similar to what exists on Ethereum.

The Downside of MEV on Solana

While MEV can be profitable for validators and searchers, it often comes at the expense of regular users. On Solana, the introduction of Jito's mempool led to a situation where users were frequently getting the worst possible prices on their trades, especially during the recent meme coin season.

Mert explained the impact on users: "If you said my slippage is going to be 25%, like that's the worst I'll accept, you would just get that like it basically was guaranteed. And so the users would be getting worse prices while these bots would be getting more money."

This situation created tension within the Solana community, with some calling out Jito for the negative effects of their system. However, it's important to note that Jito had been developing this technology openly for two years, and their decision to suspend the mempool was a response to these community concerns.

The Technical Challenge of Replicating Jito's System

One of the most interesting aspects of Jito's decision is the difficulty other parties would face in trying to replicate their system. As Mert pointed out, "This is actually a very difficult technical challenge. Jito took a very long time to do this and the code is... pretty hard to read and so somebody would have to understand how a lot works at a very deep core level and then get like basically half the validators to adopt this new client."

This technical barrier creates a unique situation where the incentives to recreate Jito's system are high, but the practical challenges are significant. It raises questions about the future of MEV on Solana and whether other teams will attempt to fill the void left by Jito's decision.

The Impact on Solana's Ecosystem

The suspension of Jito's mempool has far-reaching implications for the Solana ecosystem. On one hand, it addresses immediate concerns about user experience and fairness. On the other, it potentially leaves significant value on the table.

Jon Charbonneau highlighted the scale of this potential value: "Even I was surprised by it. Like when I looked at the dashboards like the day that they announced it. But like I tweeted out of like the current run rate at that point was like there was 10k a day in SOL in tips, which is like a million and a half dollars. So this is over a billion, over half a billion dollars a year at least like annualized like at least at that run rate."

This substantial amount of potential revenue creates a strong incentive for someone to develop a similar system in the future. However, the current situation allows time for the Solana ecosystem to consider long-term solutions to the MEV problem.

Solana's Unique Position in Addressing MEV

Solana's approach to addressing MEV through social consensus rather than purely technical solutions is an interesting development in the broader cryptocurrency landscape. The strong social cohesion within the Solana validator set, partly due to the concentration of SOL ownership among investors and the Solana Foundation, allows for a level of coordination that might not be possible in more decentralized networks like Ethereum.

This social layer approach to MEV could potentially be a differentiating factor for Solana. As Jon pointed out, "In general I think that the like social layer approach to MEV I I think is like completely valid and is actually probably how MEV will be addressed in most circumstances in the long run."

The Future of MEV on Solana

While the current suspension of Jito's mempool is a significant step, it's likely not a permanent solution. The cryptocurrency space is known for its rapid innovation, and the potential value left on the table will likely drive further developments in this area.

The challenge for Solana will be to find a balance between allowing for efficient markets and protecting users from predatory practices. This might involve developing more sophisticated MEV solutions that can capture value for the network while minimizing negative impacts on users.

Solana's Scaling Challenges and Solutions

The conversation also touched on broader scaling challenges facing Solana. Despite its high transaction throughput, Solana is experiencing some growing pains as it deals with increased network activity, particularly from meme coins and NFTs.

Mert highlighted some of the current issues: "Solana's working this fast and it's like insanely broken so like I'm kind of curious what happens to L1 scaling when these problems are actually fixed like what does that look like."

These challenges include network jitter, issues with the fee market, and the need for improved client implementations. However, the Solana ecosystem is actively working on solutions, including the upcoming Firedancer client and potential improvements to the fee market mechanism.

The Role of L2s and L3s in the Ethereum Ecosystem

The discussion also explored the evolving landscape of Layer 2 (L2) and Layer 3 (L3) solutions in the Ethereum ecosystem. Jon provided insights into the strategic considerations behind the push for L3s by L2 providers.

He explained, "L2s aggressively pushing L3s is a strategic business move rather than a scaling one and one that Ethereum L1 should be cautious of the power dynamics."

This perspective highlights the complex interplay between technical solutions and business strategies in the blockchain space. It also raises questions about the long-term architecture of blockchain networks and how different layers will interact and compete.

The Continuing Relevance of Alternative L1s

Despite the advancements in L2 and L3 solutions, the discussion emphasized that alternative L1 networks like Solana are likely to remain relevant and continue to innovate. Jon stated, "The alt L1 rotation and getting a newer, faster L1, it's not going to go away. It's going to be the same thing in two years."

This prediction suggests that the cryptocurrency ecosystem will continue to support a diverse range of blockchain architectures, each with its own strengths and use cases.

The Rise of Meme Coins and Their Impact

The conversation also touched on the phenomenon of meme coins, which have become a significant driver of activity on networks like Solana. While some in the industry view meme coins critically, Jon offered a more positive perspective:

"They're fun like like this is what crypto is in large part um and like that's fine particularly today like realistically all of the people who are still here today are the like early people who are nerds and look just like like using all this shit like like stop taking yourself so seriously and just like getting annoyed at the people who are trading meme coins like it's fine."

This view suggests that meme coins, despite their often playful nature, are an important part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and contribute to its vibrancy and user engagement.

Solana's Unique Advantages in the NFT Space

The discussion highlighted Solana's unique advantages in the NFT space, particularly for projects like Drip that require high-volume, low-cost minting. Mert explained:

"They use compression on Solana which is like um it lets you mints millions of NFTs for like a hundred few hundred dollars so this is already just not doable on an L2 like it doesn't this is do purely to the storage compute ratio that Solana has with the account model um and you just cannot do this anywhere else."

This capability demonstrates Solana's potential to enable new types of applications and use cases that may not be feasible on other networks.

Challenges and Opportunities for Solana

While Solana offers unique advantages, the discussion also highlighted some of the current challenges facing the network. These include issues with transaction scheduling, network congestion, and the need for improvements to the fee market.

However, these challenges are being actively addressed by the Solana community. Mert mentioned several upcoming improvements:

"There's a networking fix or or a transaction scheduling fix coming out April first that's gonna fix probably most of the problems I would say uh for the jitter at least um and then uh you know there's some discussion about reworking that working layer uh that's what fire answers suggests and maybe some of the D5 teams and then totally has simd 110 which is about improving the economics such that people are discouraged from spamming and they get like exponential fees for spamming."

These ongoing developments demonstrate the Solana ecosystem's commitment to continuous improvement and scalability.

The Future of Blockchain Scalability

The conversation provided valuable insights into the future of blockchain scalability across different networks. While solutions like L2s and L3s are gaining traction in the Ethereum ecosystem, networks like Solana are pushing the boundaries of what's possible on a single chain.

Jon suggested that the landscape in two years might not look radically different from today, but with more developed ecosystems:

"In two years I actually don't think it'll look crazy different I think it will look similar just more developed of you'll have a handful of these integrated chains that are still like super super popular that people are excited about but you'll also have like a million different chains um and like most of them won't be relevant like most of them won't like people won't care about them at all but you will still have that just like very strong mix of architectures in my mind."

This prediction suggests a future where multiple blockchain architectures coexist, each serving different needs and use cases.

The Importance of User Experience

Throughout the discussion, the importance of user experience in driving adoption and usage of blockchain networks was a recurring theme. The challenges with MEV, network congestion, and transaction fees all ultimately come down to how they affect the end-user experience.

As blockchain technology continues to evolve, finding ways to improve user experience while maintaining the core values of decentralization and security will be crucial. Solana's efforts to address these challenges through both technical and social solutions demonstrate a commitment to creating a user-friendly blockchain ecosystem.

The Role of Social Consensus in Blockchain Governance

The Jito situation on Solana highlights the potential power of social consensus in blockchain governance. Unlike purely technical solutions, social approaches rely on the shared values and coordination of network participants.

Jon pointed out the potential and limitations of this approach:

"In general I think that the like social layer approach to MEV I I think is like completely valid and is actually probably how MEV will be addressed in most circumstances in the long run um the thing that is just like fundamentally super super difficult is I don't know that that is going to work super well when you're talking about like a completely general purpose and trying to be like maximally decentralized type of system."

This observation raises interesting questions about the balance between social coordination and technical solutions in blockchain governance, and how this balance might differ across various networks.

The Evolving Landscape of Blockchain Data Availability

The discussion touched on the importance of data availability (DA) solutions in the evolving blockchain landscape. With the emergence of solutions like Celestia and EigenDA, there's a growing recognition of the crucial role that efficient and cost-effective data availability plays in scaling blockchain networks.

Mert highlighted the cost differentials:

"Arbitrum as an example here and let's just see so over the course of its lifetime it's posted it's about 63 almost 64,000 megabytes of data to Ethereum and it's paid 79 million dollars to do so so that comes out to about a 1,250 dollars per megabyte of data. Celestia charges 20 cents per megabyte of data."

These stark differences in cost are driving innovation and competition in the data availability space, which could have significant implications for the future of blockchain scalability.

The Potential of Rollups and Modular Blockchain Architecture

The conversation explored the potential of rollups and modular blockchain architecture to address scaling challenges. While Ethereum is moving towards a rollup-centric roadmap, the discussion highlighted that there's still a place for high-performance L1s like Solana.

Jon suggested that the future might see a convergence of approaches:

"I think a lot of these major assets are going to converge on the kind of similar ecosystem type model um but yeah in two years I actually don't think it'll look crazy different I think it will look similar just more developed."

This perspective suggests that while different blockchain networks may adopt similar ecosystem models, there will still be room for diversity and specialization.

The Impact of Meme Coins on Blockchain Adoption

The rise of meme coins, particularly on networks like Solana, was discussed as a significant factor driving blockchain adoption and activity. While often dismissed as frivolous, meme coins have demonstrated an ability to attract users and drive engagement.

Jon offered a positive perspective on this phenomenon:

"They're fun like like this is what crypto is in large part um and like that's fine particularly today like realistically all of the people who are still here today are the like early people who are nerds and look just like like using all this shit."

This view suggests that meme coins, despite their often playful nature, play a valuable role in the ecosystem by attracting users and fostering engagement.

Solana's Unique Position in the NFT Ecosystem

The discussion highlighted Solana's unique advantages in the NFT space, particularly for high-volume, low-cost minting. Mert explained the technical basis for this advantage:

"They use compression on Solana which is like um it lets you mints millions of NFTs for like a hundred few hundred dollars so this is already just not doable on an L2 like it doesn't this is do purely to the storage compute ratio that Solana has with the account model."

This capability positions Solana as a strong contender in the NFT space, enabling use cases that may not be feasible on other networks.

The Challenges of Rapid Growth and Innovation

While Solana's rapid growth and innovation have brought significant benefits, they've also introduced challenges. The discussion touched on issues like network congestion, transaction scheduling problems, and the need for improvements to the fee market.

Mert candidly described the current state:

"Solana's actually like insanely broken right now like it's it's actually it actually barely doesn't like it barely works uh like you'll still be able to get your stuff through as a user but like if you're a dapp those uh four hundreds and five hundreds in your data dot charts start adding up."

However, the discussion also highlighted ongoing efforts to address these challenges, demonstrating the Solana ecosystem's commitment to continuous improvement.

The Future of Blockchain Interoperability

As the blockchain space continues to evolve, the question of interoperability between different networks becomes increasingly important. The discussion touched on the potential for greater integration between different blockchain ecosystems in the future.

Jon suggested that major blockchain assets might converge on similar ecosystem models:

"I think a lot of these major assets are going to converge on the kind of similar ecosystem type model um but yeah in two years I actually don't think it'll look crazy different I think it will look similar just more developed."

This perspective suggests a future where different blockchain networks may become more interoperable and adopt similar patterns, while still maintaining their unique strengths and characteristics.

The Role of Hardware in Blockchain Scalability

The discussion touched on the role of hardware in blockchain scalability, particularly in the context of Solana and emerging L2 solutions. There was mention of projects like Eclipse that are pushing the boundaries of hardware requirements to achieve higher performance.

This approach raises interesting questions about the trade-offs between performance, decentralization, and accessibility. As blockchain networks continue to evolve, finding the right balance between these factors will be crucial for long-term success and adoption.

The Importance of Flexible and Adaptable Blockchain Architecture

Throughout the discussion, the importance of flexible and adaptable blockchain architecture was a recurring theme. The ability of networks like Solana to rapidly iterate and implement improvements was highlighted as a key strength.

This flexibility allows for quick responses to emerging challenges and opportunities, as demonstrated by Solana's ongoing efforts to address scaling issues and improve user experience. As the blockchain space continues to evolve at a rapid pace, this ability to adapt quickly may prove to be a crucial advantage.

The Continuing Evolution of Blockchain Governance

The Jito situation on Solana highlights the ongoing evolution of blockchain governance models. The discussion touched on the potential of social consensus approaches, as well as the challenges of maintaining such approaches as networks grow and become more decentralized.

This evolution raises important questions about how blockchain networks can balance the need for rapid decision-making and adaptation with the principles of decentralization and community governance. The solutions developed in response to these challenges could have far-reaching implications for the future of blockchain technology.

The Impact of Regulatory Developments on Blockchain Innovation

While not explicitly discussed in depth, the conversation touched on the broader context of the cryptocurrency industry, including potential regulatory developments. As the industry matures, the impact of regulation on innovation and adoption will be an important factor to watch.

The ability of blockchain networks like Solana to navigate this evolving regulatory landscape while continuing to innovate and grow will be crucial for their long-term success.

Conclusion: Solana's Promising Future in the Evolving Blockchain Landscape

The discussion with Jon Charbonneau on the Lightspeed podcast provided valuable insights into the current state and future prospects of Solana and the broader blockchain ecosystem. Despite facing challenges, Solana continues to demonstrate its potential as a high-performance, innovative blockchain platform.

The suspension of Jito's mempool, while potentially leaving short-term value on the table, demonstrates Solana's commitment to user experience and long-term sustainability. This move, along with ongoing efforts to address scaling challenges and improve network performance, positions Solana well for future growth and adoption.

As the blockchain landscape continues to evolve, with developments in L2 and L3 solutions, data availability layers, and interoperability protocols, Solana's unique strengths in areas like NFT minting and high-throughput applications give it a distinct advantage.

The discussion highlighted the importance of flexibility, continuous innovation, and community engagement in the success of blockchain networks. Solana's active ecosystem of developers, validators, and users, combined with its technical capabilities, suggests a bright future for the platform in the dynamic and rapidly evolving world of blockchain technology.

As we look to the future, it's clear that while challenges remain, the potential for Solana and other innovative blockchain solutions to drive meaningful change and enable new possibilities is stronger than ever. The ongoing developments in the Solana ecosystem, from technical improvements to governance innovations, paint a picture of a vibrant, resilient, and forward-thinking blockchain platform poised for continued growth and success.

Facts + Figures

  • Jito Labs suspended their mempool function on Solana due to negative externalities impacting users.
  • The current run rate for tips on Solana was around 10,000 SOL per day, equivalent to about $1.5 million, or over half a billion dollars annualized.
  • Solana's unique compression feature allows minting millions of NFTs for a few hundred dollars, which is not feasible on L2 solutions.
  • Over 8,500 SPL tokens are being created each day on Solana, indicating high activity in meme coins and NFTs.
  • Drip, a Solana-based app, has been experiencing mints pending for 4-5 days due to network congestion.
  • Solana's current state is described as "insanely broken" with issues in transaction scheduling and the fee market.
  • A networking or transaction scheduling fix for Solana is planned for April 1st, which is expected to address most of the current issues.
  • Celestia charges 20 cents per megabyte of data, compared to Ethereum's historical cost of $1,250 per megabyte for Arbitrum.
  • Arbitrum has posted about 64,000 megabytes of data to Ethereum over its lifetime, paying $79 million to do so.
  • The maximum amount of data per blob in Ethereum's blob transactions is 0.125 megabytes.
  • Eclipse, a Solana-based project, plans to push hardware requirements to extreme levels to achieve high performance.
  • The discussion predicts that in two years, the blockchain landscape will look similar but more developed, with a handful of popular integrated chains and many niche chains.

Questions Answered

What led Jito Labs to suspend their mempool function on Solana?

Jito Labs suspended their mempool function due to negative externalities that were impacting Solana users. The introduction of a mempool to Solana's continuous block building process had opened up opportunities for MEV (Maximum Extractable Value), similar to what exists on Ethereum. However, this led to a situation where users were often getting the worst possible prices on their trades, especially during the recent meme coin season. The decision to suspend the mempool was made in response to community concerns and to protect users from predatory practices.

How does Solana's approach to MEV differ from Ethereum's?

Solana's approach to MEV differs from Ethereum's in several ways. Firstly, Solana doesn't have a traditional mempool by design, instead using a continuous block building process. Jito's introduction of a mempool was a departure from this original design. Secondly, Solana's community has shown a willingness to address MEV issues through social consensus rather than purely technical solutions. This is partly possible due to the stronger social cohesion within the Solana validator set, which is influenced by the concentration of SOL ownership among investors and the Solana Foundation. This social layer approach to MEV could potentially be a differentiating factor for Solana in addressing these issues.

What are the current scaling challenges facing Solana?

Solana is currently facing several scaling challenges despite its high transaction throughput. These include issues with transaction scheduling, network congestion, and problems with the fee market mechanism. The network is experiencing what's described as "network jitter," which can lead to inconsistent transaction processing times. Additionally, the current fee market doesn't work properly, leading to a situation where adding a higher fee to a transaction doesn't guarantee it will be processed faster. The network is also dealing with congestion issues, particularly during high-activity periods driven by meme coins and NFT minting. However, the Solana ecosystem is actively working on solutions to these challenges, including upcoming improvements to the networking layer and fee market mechanism.

How does Solana's NFT minting capability compare to other blockchain networks?

Solana offers unique advantages in the NFT space, particularly for high-volume, low-cost minting. The network's compression feature allows for minting millions of NFTs for just a few hundred dollars, which is not feasible on most other networks, including Layer 2 solutions on Ethereum. This capability is due to Solana's storage-compute ratio and account model. For example, projects like Drip can mint millions of NFTs per day on Solana, a scale that would be prohibitively expensive on other networks. This advantage positions Solana as a strong contender in the NFT space, enabling use cases that may not be possible elsewhere.

What is the significance of Layer 3 (L3) solutions in the blockchain ecosystem?

Layer 3 (L3) solutions are emerging as a topic of interest in the blockchain ecosystem, particularly in relation to Layer 2 (L2) solutions. The push for L3s by L2 providers is described as more of a strategic business move than a pure scaling solution. L3s can provide benefits in terms of user experience and bridging, particularly when users are already onboarded to a specific L2. For example, an app chain settling directly to a popular L2 like Base could provide a simpler bridging experience for users already on that L2. However, it's important to note that there's no fundamental technical difference between L2s and L3s in terms of scalability. The discussion suggests that the promotion of L3s by L2 providers could be seen as a way to strengthen their position in the ecosystem and capture more value.

How are meme coins impacting the Solana ecosystem?

Meme coins are having a significant impact on the Solana ecosystem. They are driving a large amount of network activity, with over 8,500 SPL tokens being created each day on Solana. While some in the industry view meme coins critically, they are seen as an important part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, contributing to its vibrancy and user engagement. Meme coins are attracting users to the platform and driving innovation in areas like token creation and trading. However, the high activity from meme coins is also contributing to network congestion and scaling challenges. Despite these challenges, meme coins are viewed positively by some as they represent the fun and experimental nature of the crypto space, particularly appealing to early adopters and enthusiasts.

What improvements are planned for Solana to address its current challenges?

Several improvements are planned or under discussion to address Solana's current challenges. A networking or transaction scheduling fix is planned for April 1st, which is expected to address most of the current issues with network jitter. There are discussions about reworking the networking layer, with suggestions from projects like Firedancer. Additionally, there are proposals to improve the economics of the network to discourage spamming, such as implementing exponential fees for excessive transactions. The Solana ecosystem is actively working on these solutions, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and scalability. These planned improvements aim to enhance network performance, improve the user experience, and make the network more resilient to high-activity periods.

How does data availability cost on Solana compare to other solutions like Celestia?

The discussion highlighted significant cost differences in data availability between different blockchain solutions. While specific figures for Solana weren't provided, the conversation compared Ethereum's historical costs with newer solutions like Celestia. For instance, Arbitrum, an Ethereum Layer 2, has historically paid about $1,250 per megabyte to post data to Ethereum. In contrast, Celestia charges only 20 cents per megabyte of data. This stark difference in cost is driving innovation in the data availability space. While Solana's specific data availability costs weren't mentioned, its overall low transaction costs and high throughput suggest that it's likely more cost-effective than traditional Ethereum Layer 1 solutions. The emergence of specialized data availability solutions like Celestia is part of a broader trend towards modular blockchain architectures, which could influence Solana's future development and competitiveness.

What is the outlook for blockchain scalability in the next two years?

The discussion suggests that the blockchain landscape in two years might not look radically different from today, but will be more developed. We can expect to see a handful of popular integrated chains, including Solana, that continue to attract users and developers. At the same time, there will likely be a proliferation of niche chains and Layer 2 solutions. The ecosystem is expected to support a diverse range of blockchain architectures, each serving different needs and use cases. Improvements in areas like data availability, Layer 2 scaling solutions, and cross-chain interoperability are likely to continue. For Solana specifically, ongoing efforts to address current challenges and improve scalability are expected to strengthen its position. The overall trend seems to be towards a more interconnected and efficient blockchain ecosystem, with different solutions catering to various requirements for performance, security, and decentralization.

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