GenesysGo: Solana’s Infrastructural Feat (I)

SMUB Research
Published in
7 min readSep 21, 2022


by Evanarp, David Sim, Russell and Kaydon

Nothing following this constitutes financial advice, please do your own research!


This research report on GenesysGo and the Shadow Ecosystem was completed in early July 2022. However, the delay in publishing this report was due to administration issues and the changing of Medium Accounts. We note that there has been significant changes to the ecosystem.

(Source: GenesysGo)


Given the size of this project, we have split it into 2 articles to ensure that it’s properly segmented and reader-friendly. The first article touches on the Solana and Shadow ecosystems, and how GenesysGo comes in as a storage solution. The second article will delve more into the other products GenesysGo offers, and its native token $SHDW.

Solana Ecosystem

Commonly touted as the “Ethereum Killer”, Solana cleverly combines the Proof of Stake and Proof of History algorithms to efficiently support 65,000 Transactions per second (TPS) with only 0.00025USD charged. Comparatively, Ethereum can only handle 12–15 TPS, with average gas fees of 40USD between January 2021 and May 2022. Hence, Solana comes in as a plausible long term solution with its high throughput, inexpensive transaction costs and modest scalability.

Besides being a high speed Layer 1 Blockchain project, Solana is also known for being an open-source platform that has an accessible source code for users to expand on. Given how this facilitates innovation, many developers have chosen Solana as the foundation to build their applications on, giving rise to a whole ecosystem of decentralised applications (dApps).

Solana’s landscape and ecosystem (Source: Solanians)

Solana plays hosts to numerous dApps that serve a variety of functions, including wallet, DeFi and infrastructural applications.

Be it crypto natives or beginners, such an innovative feat definitely does not go by unnoticed. As of today, Solana boasts a total value locked (TVL) of USD2.6 billion, which is approximately 3.45% of all blockchains, surpassing that of Arbitrum and Polygon.

Additionally, it is evident that Solana is not a dead chain as compared to other “Ethereum Killers”, as the average number of active addresses over the past 10 months is ~20 million users per month. This figure is comparable to the number of active addresses on Ethereum of ~15 million users per month.

Number of active addresses on Solana (Source:

Since August 2021, the number of active addresses on Solana exceeds that of Ethereum, with it hitting an all time high of nearly 40 million wallets in April 2021.

Number of active addresses on Ethereum (Source:

From January 2021, the number of active addresses on Ethereum has hovered around 15 million.

Shadow ecosystem

The Shadow Ecosystem focuses on decentralising pre-existing web2 technologies and evolving it for the web3 world. It operates a series of infrastructure layers that, in true Solana fashion, are open sourced and trustless in nature. In the bigger picture, this means that all developers in the Solana ecosystem are provided with a key infrastructural mechanism that ensures decentralisation.

Shadow Drive

These infrastructure layers translate to vast amounts of data. To effectively contain them, GenesysGo has developed Shadow Drive, which comes in as the storage solution for the Shadow ecosystem. Shadow Drive is in turn run by a network of independent nodes who contribute computing power. Also known as Shadow Operators, these nodes support the crucial on-chain storage system of the Shadow Drive.

Shadow Net

Additionally, GenesysGo offers Shadow Net, an L2 solution for Solana developers to deploy a private instance of the Solana blockchain with all program accounts preloaded. Its native Shadow Token is predominantly used to pay for the gas fees.

Shadow RPC Network

Last but not least, GenesysGo also maintains a RPC network that is already paid for using the royalties from the Shadowy Super Coder NFT and the APR generated from the Shadowy Super Coder DAO validator. This RPC network improves user experience by providing unlimited requests per second and its network is distributed across 9 countries.

What is a Remote Procedure Call (RPC)?

Decentralised applications (DApps) require a way to communicate with blockchains to store data and send requests for transactions. A RPC node bridges this gap by facilitating communication between the Solana blockchain and the endpoint user. It is noteworthy to know that the RPC node merely facilitates, but does not participate in the consensus process in order to prevent potential network congestion.

An illustration of how RPC works

For example, when users use their wallets such as Phantom/MetaMask to make transactions, their requests go through an RPC to connect them with the blockchain nodes. RPCs remain highly relevant today given how popular blockchains (Solana, Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain and Polygon) are using them as a form of communication between computer programmes.

RPCs play a vital role in ensuring that the load of the user’s request is spread among the network to not overwhelm any one validator. A robust RPC infrastructure forms the backbone of the Solana ecosystem as without it, the entire ecosystem would not be able to function effectively.

However, it is not without its pitfalls. With Solana’s meteoric growth over the past year, a bottleneck at the RPC endpoint has started to surface, causing the Solana network to experience more outages due to an overload. (

The Shadow Drive Architecture

Shadow Drive is GenesysGo’s iteration of on-chain storage built specifically for the Solana blockchain.

Reasons for Shadow Drive

  1. The current cloud storage solutions in web 2.0 (Google Cloud, OneDrive) are not entirely desirable because they are:

a) Centralised servers (susceptible to data breach)

b) Mutable and permissioned (content and access subject to discretion of central authority)

2. When users request transactions on Phantom/MetaMask, they interact with the RPC nodes. This very method generates data, which is stored on Solana’s historical ledger. As Solana’s network traffic grows, the amount of data produced increases as well. Thus, long term and reliable access to this data is needed, which is where Shadow Drive comes in.

3. The current primary storage solution, Arweave, does not have the necessary throughput to keep up with the pace Solana is growing at, which calls for an alternative storage system that is scalable.

Shadow Drive strives to eliminate the problems mentioned above by utilising an open source, censorship resistant decentralized system to store data, capitalising on a huge market opportunity and essentially, improving Solana’s scalability and security.

How does Shadow Drive work

Shadow Drive directly connects with the Solana Validator network to maintain consensus

Here’s an example of how Shadow Drive works to secure data on its network:

An illustrative flowchart of users interact with Shadow Drive.

The NFT founders who uploaded the NFT metadata will not be able to change and alter data once it has been updated to the Shadow Drive.

Shadow Drive v1.5: Faster and Better

GenesysGo’s talented team recently updated the Shadow Protocol’s decentralised storage solution just two months after v1.0, which shows the teams’ desire and effort to push for mainstream Web3 adoption. It is designed to support entire ecosystems built on top of it. Shadow Drive v1.5 allows significantly cheaper and faster uploads.

(Source: GenesysGo Gitbook)

Additionally, GenesysGo noted that the key in onboarding is to improve developer’s experience. As such, Shadow Drive has been designed to allow developers to easily plan ahead with just a simple deterministic file naming scheme (as shown above).

Increasing adoption!

(Source: Twitter)

Sea Shanties, one of the leaders in Solana’s NFT Launchpad, Hydra, has decided to move their entire ecosystem on to Shadow Drive!

(Source: Twitter)

Metaplex, a protocol that specialises in NFT launches, has also included Shadow Drive as one of its storage solutions in their recent update.

With the onboarding of more projects, this paints a favourable outlook for GenesysGo’s ecosystem since word has been getting around. In a nutshell, this creates a positive cycle for the project and increases its viability.


(Source: Tenor)

To end part I of our report on GenesysGo, the decentralised Shadow Drive system strives to be the ideal storage solution for the Solana ecosystem by providing innovative infrastructure technology. To find out more, stay tuned for part ii of our article as we dive into GenesysGo and their $SHDW token.

Appendix:,,, [,](,, ,



SMUB Research

Blockchain, DeFi and NFT