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Comprehensive Compute Fees


The current fee structure lacks a comprehensive account of the work required by a validator to process a transaction. It is currently only based on the number of signatures in a transaction but is meant to account for the work that the validator must perform to validate each transaction. The validator performs a lot more user-defined work than just signature verification. Processing a transaction typically includes signature verifications, account locking, account loading, and instruction processing.

Proposed Solution#

The following solution does not specify what native token costs are to be associated with the new fee structure. Instead, it sets the criteria and provides the knobs that a cost model can use to determine those costs.


The goal of the fees is to cover the computation cost of processing a transaction. Each of the fee categories below will be represented as a compute unit cost that, when added together, encompasses the entire cost of processing the transaction. By calculating the total cost of the transaction, the runtime can charge a more representative fee and make better transaction scheduling decisions.

A fee will be calculated based on:

  1. Number of signatures
    • Fixed rate per signature
  2. Number of write locks
    • Fixed rate per writable account
  3. Data byte cost
    • Fixed rate per byte of the sum of the length all a transactions instruction datas
  4. Account sizes
    • Account sizes can't be known up-front but can account for a considerable amount of the load the transaction incurs on the network. The payer will be charged for a maximum account size (10m) upfront and refunded the difference after the actual account sizes are known.
  5. Compute budget
    • Each transaction will be given a default transaction-wide compute budget of 200k units with the option of requesting a larger budget via a compute budget instruction up to a maximum of 1m units. This budget is used to limit the time it takes to process a transaction. The compute budget portion of the fee will be charged up-front based on the default or requested amount. After processing, the actual number of units consumed will be known, and the payer will be refunded the difference, so the payer only pays for what they used. Builtin programs will have a fixed cost while BPF program's cost will be measured at runtime.
  6. Precompiled programs
    • Precompiled programs are performing compute-intensive operations. The work incurred by a precompiled program is predictable based on the instruction's data array. Therefore a cost will be assigned per precompiled program based on the parsing of instruction data. Because precompiled programs are processed outside of the bank, their compute cost will not be reflected in the compute budget and will not be used in transaction scheduling decisions. The methods used to determine the fixed cost of the components above are described in #19627

Cost model#

The cost model is used to assess what load a transaction will incur during in-slot processing and then make decisions on how to best schedule transaction into batches.

The cost model's criteria are identical to the fee's criteria except for signatures and precompiled programs. These two costs are incurred before a transaction is scheduled and therefore do not affect how long a transaction takes within a slot to process.

Cache account sizes and use them instead of the max#

Transaction-wide compute caps#

The current compute budget caps are independently applied to each instruction within a transaction. This means the overall transaction cap varies depending on how many instructions are in the transaction. To more accurately schedule a transaction, the compute budget will be applied transaction-wide. One challenge of the transaction-wide cap is that each instruction (program) can no longer expect to be given an equal amount of compute units. Each instruction will be given the remaining units left over after processing earlier instructions. This will provide some additional tuning and composability challenges for developers.

Requestable compute budget caps and heap sizes#

The precompiled ComputeBudget program can be used to request higher transaction-wide compute budget caps and program heap sizes. The requested increases will be reflected in the transaction's fee.

Fees for precompiled program failures#

Rate governing#

Current rate governing needs to be re-assessed. Fees are being rate governed down to their minimums because the number of signatures in each slot is far lower than the "target" signatures per slot.

Instead of using the number of signatures to rate govern, the cost model will feed back information based on the batch/queue load it is seeing. The fees will sit at a target rate and only increase if the load goes above a specified but to be determined threshold. The governing will be applied across all the fee criteria.

Deterministic fees#

Solana's fees are currently deterministic based on a given blockhash. This determinism is a nice feature that simplifies client interactions. An example is when draining an account that is also the payer, the transaction issuer can pre-compute the fee and then set the entire remaining balance to be transferred out without worrying that the fee will change leaving a very small amount remaining in the account. Another example is for offline signing, the payer signer can guarantee what fee that will be charged for the transaction based on the nonce's blockhash.

Determinism is achieved in two ways:

  • blockhash queue contains a list of recent (<=~2min) blockhashes and a lamports_per_signature value. The blockhash queue is one of the snapshot's serialized members and thus bank hash depends on it.
  • Nonce accounts used for offline signing contain a lamports_per_signature value in its account data

In both cases, when a transaction is assessed a fee, the lamports_per_signature to use is looked up (either in the queue or in the nonce account's data) using the transaction's blockhash.

This currently comes with the following challenges:

  • Exposing the FeeCalculator object to the clients (holds the lamports_per_signature) makes it hard to evolve the fee criteria due to backward-compatibility. This issue is being solved by deprecating the FeeCalculator object and instead the new apis take a message and return a fee.
  • Blockhash queue entries contain the fee criteria specifics and are part of the bankhash so evolving the fees over time involves more work/risk
  • Nonce accounts store the fee criteria directly in their account data so evolving the fees over time requires changes to nonce account data and data size.

Two solutions to the latter two challenges

  • Get rid of the concept of deterministic fees. Clients ask via RPC to calculate the current fee estimate and the actual fee is assessed when the transaction is processed. Fee changes will be governed and change slowly based on network load so the fee differences will be small within the 2min window. Nonce accounts no longer store the fee criteria but instead a fee cap. If the assessed fee at the time of processing exceeds the cap then the transaction fails. This solution removes fee criteria entirely from the blockhash queue and nonce accounts and removes the need for either of those to evolve if there is a need for fee criteria to evolve.
  • Retain the concept of deterministic fees. Clients ask via RPC to calculate the current fee and pass in a blockhash that fee will be associated with. Blockhash queue and nonce accounts switch to a versioned but internal "Fee" object (similar to "FeeCalculator"). Each time there is a need for fees to evolve the fee object will add a new version and new blockhash queue entries and new nonce accounts will use the new version.