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Firedancer Builds First Testnet Block - Why Firedancer is Solana's Biggest Update Yet

Jump Crypto’s eagerly awaited Firedancer client has achieved a key milestone, sparking excitement for its future launch.

July 10, 2024 by Finn Miller

Perhaps the biggest network update in Solana history, Jump Crypto’s Firedancer validator client draws closer to mainnet launch every day. 

Jump’s engineering team has stoked fires even further, revealing that the full Firedancer validator client successfully built its first accepted block on the Solana testnet.

One Small Block for Jump, One Large Milestone for Solana

While still operating in a testnet environment, Jump Crypto’s Firedancer validator client has made waves in the Solana ecosystem. After years of development work, the full validator client confirmed its inaugural accepted block at 23:07 UTC.

The event marks a crucial milestone in the project’s development, fuelling excitement for the client’s highly-anticipated release.

Promising unrivaled scalability, the advent of the FireDancer client is expected to amplify Solana’s industry-leading performance and usher in a new era of decentralization and network resilience for the Layer 1 blockchain.

What is Firedancer and why is it so important to Solana’s growth?

What is Firedancer?

Solana Firedancer is an upcoming validator client being developed by Jump Crypto, a prominent investment and infrastructure development firm. A validator client is a software program that facilitates communication between node operators and the blockchain itself.

A long-term supporter and investor in Solana, Jump Crypto is building the new client with several key objectives in mind. Primarily, Jump envisions a faster, more scalable Solana, with additional measures put in place to improve network security, reliability, and decentralization.

Why are diversified validator clients so important and how will Firedancer help Solana solidify itself as the most performant network in the blockchain industry?

How Does Firedancer Improve Solana?

Currently, the entire Solana blockchain relies on two validator clients, developed by Solana Labs and Jito. While this is already an improvement on the majority of Layer One blockchains, it still leaves the network vulnerable. 

validator stake

According to the Solana Foundation’s latest Validator Health Report, the Solana Labs validator client holds 68.55% of the total network stake. This gives the Solana Labs client outsized control and influence over the network. In the event of a bug or system failure in the client software, the entire network could suffer downtime.

While running independently of Solana Labs, the Jito Labs validator client software is a fork of the Solana Labs client. This means that their codebases are very similar and any bugs found in one client are likely to be found in the other.

Client diversity is critically important to blockchain security. By operating a greater number of independent validator clients, blockchain networks become far more resilient. 

Firedancer takes this concept to the next level. While both the Labs and Jito clients are written in the Rust programming language, Firedancer has been completely rewritten from scratch in C. This approach dramatically mitigates the risk of bugs or faults in the original codebase being repeated, boosting Solana’s security.

But this is only one side of the coin. Solana’s Firedancer client also promises to bring unprecedented network speeds and transaction throughput to the network. In an early demonstration broadcast at Breakpoint 2022, the Firedancer client proved itself capable of processing over 1M transactions per second.

Firedancer Security Bounties

Before Firedancer starts setting Solana alight with its blistering speeds, the validator will need to be thoroughly audited to ensure its security.

Likely to be the first of several iterations of Firedancer security audits, Immunefi has launched the first bug bounty competition for Firedancer v0.1. The program allows developers and white hat hackers to dissect Firedancer's codebase, with up to $1M in prizes up for grabs. 

When Will Firedancer Launch?

With the full Firedancer client successfully building its first block on the Solana testnet, excitement ahead of the mainnet launch has reached a fever pitch. 

Engineering timelines are notoriously difficult to predict, with Anatoly Yakovenko suggesting chances of a full Firedancer node being live in time for Breakpoint 2024 were around 50%.

Restoring a sense of calm amidst the excitement, the Jump engineer who made the original announcement reiterated that there is still plenty of work to be done before the full client is ready.

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