Written by
Mert Mumtaz
Published on
June 30, 2023
Copy link

Solana RPCs and Helius

When we started Helius, we had no intention of running RPC nodes. In fact, we thought teams entering the RPC space were mistaken. RPCs are a commodity and will eventually race to zero we thought (and were told repeatedly). Helius’ first objective was to make the entire Solana blockchain human-readable. We would do this by parsing all transactions and protocols — closed-source or not. This is still one of our objectives, but it is no longer the first one. This is because we came across a problem: RPC nodes on Solana.

RPC nodes on Solana were either too expensive, too unreliable/inconsistent, or too slow. While some providers were fast, they charged absurd prices (which only increased over time). Some providers were cheaper but had inconsistent data. Some were flat out unreliable. How do we know this? Because we used them all. To power our services in the early days, Helius relied heavily on external RPCs for backfills, data parsing, and a variety of APIs. After a few months, we had enough — the performance was inconsistent, the reliability was infuriating, the rate limits were too low, and the costs were immense, especially for new startups in an emerging ecosystem.

RPC trilemma

 As deep supporters of the ecosystem, we decided to take action. We could not find RPCs that met our standards so we decided to build them. We were told the market was very competitive and that RPCs are a race to the bottom. We did not care. Our mission is to accelerate the creation of crypto-powered software. This mission could not be realized without top-tier RPCs.

Over the next few months, we were hard at work. We spun up many RPCs in different regions. We fine-tuned them for weeks as we came across new issues arising from different use-cases. We talked to our users and we iterated on their feedback. We helped lead the integration of state compression on Solana. We architected new caching systems, new indices, and new observability integrations. Most importantly, we helped Solana teams succeed in their endeavours. We helped Helium migrate to Solana, we helped xNFT Backpack’s historic mint, and we supported Discord and Shopify Pay’s expansion onto Solana.

The end result is an RPC that is amongst the most efficient, most generous, most reliable, AND within the top %1 of highest performance in the entire ecosystem. We did not sacrifice on any single factor of the RPC trilemma (a term we coined to describe the previous state of the RPC market). We have the highest rate limits, the best unit cost per RPC call, the newest features (compression), all without compromising on speed or reliability. Oh, did we mention you also get a dedicated Datadog dashboard for the most unparalleled observability and insights in the entire Solana ecosystem?

See for yourself below.

Solana RPC Dashboard

But don’t take our word for it. RPCs are like cars: you need to test drive one to fully appreciate it. Fortunately, you can take our RPCs out for a test drive for free, without needing any credit cards or email addresses — simply go to dev.helius.xyz, connect your wallet and your RPC URL will be generated for you. To view all of our offerings and pricing, see helius.dev.

Happy building!