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All you need to know about Solana’s latest upgrade

3min Read

In a bid to improve security and foster validator activity, the Solana v1.16 brings on the feature mostly connected with Ethereum. But there’s more.

Solana news

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  • The new upgrade allows ZK proofs to enhance runtime support for Solana.
  • With encryption on SPL tokens, users can make private transactions without compromising on security.

Solana [SOL] has finally adopted a new update to its validator client known as the Solana v1.16. In an article posted on 6 October, the project’s ultimate developer platform Helium, wrote a detailed explainer on what the latest upgrade is about.


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ZK-SNARKS to the rescue

Before going into the attributes, Helius gave a step-by-step report of how the v1.16 was tested. According to the post, the upgrade was in development for ten good months with efforts by both volunteers and canary nodes.

For context, a canary node involves the testing of a new feature with real users before it’s eventually deployed. Helius noted that the Solana v1.16 had been running on Testnet since 7 June.

The development team, however, noted that there were some issues with the RPC nodes and a bit of security.

But with the help of the canary node, Solana was able to call in Halborn a blockchain security solution firm to audit the upgrade before it went live on Mainnet Beta.

Interestingly, the features of the new upgrade constituted some of the benefits users and validators have been hoping Solana integrates.

First, Solana noted that the v1.16 upgrade allows for the effective implementation of Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge (ZK-SNARKS). Typically, ZK features are known to be linked with Ethereum [ETH] scaling solutions. 

However, Solana’s decision to implement it was because of its mission to enhance runtime support for ZK computations. Hence, the report mentioned that,

“These operations are standardized on Ethereum through EIP-196, EIP-197, and EIP-198. The introduction of alt_bn128 syscalls is a significant leap towards bridging the compatibility gap.”

Indexing and more for validators

Another feature introduced with the upgrade is confidential transfers which also need the Zero-Knowldege input. With Solana’s confidential transfers, users can improve privacy and encrypt transactions and balances of SPL tokens.

SPL is an acronym for Solana Program Library. They are similar to Ethereum’s ERC-20 tokens. But what SPL tokens do is a bit different from ERC-20 tokens. Still, they follow a specific standard for creating and managing tokens on the Solana blockchain.

For validators, the v1.16 upgrade automatically reduces the Random Access Memory Usage (RAM) for indexing accounts. Since the deployment of the upgrade, validators now run on 39 GB of RAM instead of the previous 120GB. This was also confirmed by Yanshu, a developer from Luganodes.

At press time, data from Solana Beach showed that there were 1,993 validators on the blockchain. Also, 81.1% of the nodes were operating on v1.16.14 while 12.14% upgraded to v1.16.15.


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Solana validators

Source: Solana Beach

Other features of the new upgrade include better resource allocation for deploying applications. Also, v.1.16 addresses introduced the Epoch Account Hash, which allows the Solana network to increase security by identifying corrupt data.

While Solana admitted that the ZK integration was long overdue, it noted that it won’t rest on its oars. In concluding the report, its development arm noted that Solana could be working on releasing another upgrade in the next three months, and v1.17 could be next.

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Victor Olanrewaju is a full-time journalist at AMBCrypto. Settled in Lagos, his fascination with blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency market arose out of his love of freedom and everything free. As a Nigerian, Victor understands the impact unfounded financial restrictions have on a population. He sees Bitcoin and cryptos as a way to circumvent these obstacles, as a tool for value creation despite all the setbacks. A graduate in Physics, Victor previously worked as a Senior Marketer at Melange Technologies. Before that, he dealt with crypto-marketers on a regular basis in his capacity as Copywriter at Ventrix Media. At AMBCrypto, Victor’s focus is on assessing the real effectiveness of both on-chain and off-chain developments on a project and its community sentiment.
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