Horizen vs Ethereum vs Solana: Comparing Blockchain Platforms

Since Ethereum’s initial release in 2015, the platform has grown tremendously in terms of community, applications, and value. While Ethereum’s success is undeniable, the network is not without its shortcomings.

One of Ethereum’s major drawbacks is its high gas cost and time required to complete transactions. Gas refers to the amount of computational power needed to perform an action on a blockchain. The higher the gas price, the more costly it is to perform that action.

Ethereum also has a scalability issue with contract execution latency and a limit in the total number of contracts that can be executed per second, resulting in around 15 to 20 transactions per second (TPS). This means that if you want to seamlessly do anything other than simple payments or exchanges between two parties, you’ll need another protocol like Horizen or Solana in order for your application to scale effectively. 

Horizen aims to solve these problems by building a scalable Proof of Work mainchain with a bespoke Proof of Stake sidechain construction. Solana aims to solve these problems by building a unique, time-based approach to validating blocks, without much decentralization.

Let’s compare these three networks in detail, comparing them based on their current decentralization, performance, and privacy.

Horizen vs Ethereum vs Solana: Decentralization

Decentralization is one of the most important aspects of any blockchain network. A decentralized network does not rely on a central authority to validate transactions or enforce rules. This means that no entity can censor or manipulate the network at will. 

In spite of being the world’s first smart contract platform, Ethereum has just around 3,000 nodes, due in part to an unintentional hard fork. This means that, as of writing, Ethereum has significantly greater centralization than networks like Bitcoin

Additionally, more than 60% of Ethereum’s nodes run in centralized cloud servers like AWS. In other words, we can estimate that there are roughly 1,000 decentralized Ethereum nodes. With that said, there’s no “golden number” of nodes when it comes to decentralization, but experts agree that Ethereum can improve in this regard.

Blockchain research firm Messari Research reported that 48% of Solana tokens were distributed to “insiders.” Further, CryptoBriefing writes that “Solana is often viewed as more centralized due to its reliance on the Solana Foundation.” Indeed, the Solana Foundation is the only entity developing core nodes on the blockchain, and a validator would need to stake $1 million just to break even. As of writing, there are around 1,000 validators.

Solana itself crashed due to this centralization, and was only re-booted after major validators came together to restart the network. While that crash was notorious, it wasn’t the first time, and Solana has long experienced performance degradations and failed transactions.

As Messari Research notes, Solana can’t process transactions if one-third of the network goes down, and just two data centers account for 45% of validators. In short, Solana is relatively centralized when it comes to governance, nodes, and staking. 

The Horizen network has been built with decentralization in mind from the ground up. The protocol allows for fast and automatic node installation that does not require any special configuration or maintenance beyond running the software. These nodes are run by the community and help secure the network against attacks like 51% attacks and spam transactions. 

Horizen boasts around 45,000 Secure Nodes and 5,000 Super Nodes. Secure Nodes enable security and resilience with enhanced point-to-point encryption and decentralization, while Super Nodes help enable the sidechain platform.

In comparison to Ethereum and Solana, Horizen is far more decentralized, by node count. In terms of governance, Horizen is planning a fully decentralized treasury and voting system, called ZenDAO.

Horizen vs Ethereum vs Solana: Scalability

As we’ve briefly explored, Ethereum has scaling issues, achieving just 15 TPS, resulting in gas fees of up to $1,000. The Horizen network has developed an innovative sidechain construction that allows for the deployment of scalable applications with relative ease.

The Horizen ecosystem is built on a foundation of scalability, and this is reflected in the development team’s focus on the subject. In spite of its extremely high node count, Horizen is able to manage around 20,000 TPS, putting it on par with traditional Web 2.0 speeds.

Solana also achieves high scalability and fast speeds, but while Solana claims to reach sub-second transactions, this is very different from transaction finality. It takes several blocks before a transaction is committed, which takes Solana around 13 seconds.

Further, as we’ve seen, this comes at the cost of a security tradeoff, where Solana is susceptible to outages through Denial of Service.

Horizen vs Ethereum vs Solana: Privacy

Privacy is critical for financial privacy, healthcare applications, regulatory compliance, and many other use-cases.

Both Ethereum and Solana are public ledgers where transactions are unencrypted and publicly viewable on the blockchain. In other words, anyone can see what you’ve been up to. This is a major drawback for many use-cases that require privacy. There are attempts to build privacy-preserving applications on Solana, like Lava.Cash, but these projects don’t appear to be active.

Horizen, on the other hand, offers private and public transactions. The Horizen network allows for fully anonymous transactions using zero-knowledge cryptography called zk-SNARKs (Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge). 

This means that, optionally, no one can track your transaction history or see your balance by simply looking at the blockchain. Further, Horizen offers this complete privacy without having to use any obscure tools or plugins like Tor.


In this article, we’ve covered the differences between Horizen, Ethereum, and Solana, which each aim to solve the blockchain trilemma in their own way. Horizen offers the most decentralized network, with nearly 50,000 nodes and no single entity controlling the network.

Horizen also offers private transactions, with zk-SNARK technology that allows for fully anonymous and censorship-resistant applications. Ethereum is more centralized, with around 3,000 nodes, 60% of which run in centralized cloud servers.

Ethereum also has scaling issues, while Horizen achieves high scalability and fast speeds through its sidechain construction. Solana is more centralized than both Horizen and Ethereum, with around 1,000 validators controlling the network, resulting in outages, and half of the tokens belonging to insiders.

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