Why has the Solana blockchain stopped again? | Cryptocurrency

  • Solana’s blockchain has stopped several times.
  • This time Solana’s consensus mechanism malfunctioned due to a bug.

  • The bug was known to the team, but it hasn’t caused any issues in the past.

The value of Solana, a cryptocurrency in the top 10 by market capitalization, fell more than 12% on June 1 following its second outage in a month. An issue with the blockchain’s handling of a niche transaction type intended for offline use led to a malfunction.

After its validators stopped processing new blocks, all SOL-based applications were shut down for more than four hours.

Investors have increasingly turned to Solana and other alternative blockchains to diversify their portfolios since last year’s cryptocurrency bull run, but as the blockchain has been hit by multiple outages, their confidence in it has diminished.

The protocol is marked as a mainnet beta, so bugs and errors are always possible. This year, Mainnet-Beta blocks were interrupted twice: on April 30 and June 1. Previously, the incident had happened in September 2021 and December 2020 – four times in Solana’s 26-month existence.

What exactly caused the failure?

A Solana Labs spokesperson, Austin Federa, confirmed that validators only restart after disabling durable nonce transactions, a method by which transactions can be signed offline without requiring a recent block hash. These niche transactions were counted twice by network validators at two different block heights instead of being processed as a single transaction. This resulted in a breakdown of Solana’s consensus mechanism.

“It was probably a bug that had been around for a while but never really became a problem because it’s not something that most people use,” Federa explained.

Cryptocurrency exchanges have been using these types of transactions more widely recently, perhaps due to their cold storage setup.

The issue persisted even after rebooting, with exchanges reporting failures with Solana deposits and withdrawals.

Laine of Stakewiz, Solana’s validating operator, said that the bug was known and was fixed before the event.

In a Chat Spaces Twitter, Austin Federa and Solana Labs co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko asked if this bug that destroyed the network was related to other performance improvements and features the team had been working on. Anatoly confirmed that it was one of those totally unrelated issues.

Are Solana’s overzealous plans to blame for the breakdown?

While Solana encounters these problems, its founders take the time to criticize other blockchains instead of attacking their own.

Two co-founders of Solana, Anatoly Yakovenko and Raj Gokal, claimed during a podcast that Cardano is built “too carefully”. “That’s why they’re never going to ship,” Anatoly Yakovenko said, instead “shipping the code and getting paid for it.”

As Cardano co-founder Charles Hoskinson replied To this criticism, he admitted that ADA developers are indeed diligent in building their software, since “millions of users and thousands of businesses” depend on the infrastructure they build.

Hoskinson concluded that Solana’s team of software developers should develop something as valuable as a hospital based on its accelerated approach to software development.

A down-to-earth analysis of Solana’s performance

Galaxy Digital’s Surveying Solana report says Solana’s white paper claims a theoretical throughput of 710,000 transactions per second, but according to Solana’s website, it averages around 1,500 transactions per second (tps). Thus, Solana’s ideal future is 500 times different from the current reality.

It would be incorrect to take Solana’s self-reported tps at face value, as they count internal consensus messages as transactions, which is not common practice for the blockchain industry.

Solana calls consensus messages “vote transactions” — they are validators run by vote accounts that handle registering votes, collecting votes, and signing new votes. Solana transactions involving smart contract interactions with dapps are called “no-vote” transactions (most other blockchains only consider “no-vote” transactions).

Source: Galaxy Digital Research

According to data from Dune Analytics, voting transactions account for 80-90% of all Solana transactions. Subtracting this “consensus overhead” from the 1,500 transactions per second reported by Solana, we arrive at a true tps rate of around 300 tps without voting rights (although this number is constantly changing).

Although it is far from its theoretical 710,000 tps quoted in its whitepaper, it is still an impressive number compared to what Ethereum can achieve with its limit of 12-15 tps.

Centralization problem

Solana’s proof-of-stake network is secured by 1,785 validators as of June 6, 2022.

The stake distribution of these validators is relatively concentrated; therefore, they are theoretically capable of completely shutting down the network on their own. It’s also worth mentioning that this centralization issue is not unique to Solana (the Avalanche network contains similar stake levels among its validators).

Custodians and centralized exchanges have large balances of Solana tokens in their day-to-day operations. By running their own validators, they can earn additional yield from these tokens. Centralized exchanges can instantly vote and offer blocks to the Solana network by pointing their huge Solana balances to their own validators. In other words, if a centralized exchange has a lot of Solana on its balance sheet, it can execute a very profitable validation trade with little effort.

A user can also delegate their stake in Solana tokens to a popular validator, which is trivially easy from a retail user perspective. Delegation of participation is even part of the product offerings of some centralized exchanges, and they offer users an additional return on their static token balances in exchange for reducing a portion of participation rewards. As a result, the “rich get richer”, as the most powerful validators will be able to attract more capital and increase their influence on the network.

Conclusion

Solana is a fast-growing blockchain that is becoming increasingly popular in many areas and on track to beat Ethereum as the leader in smart contracts. Despite fundamental design flaws, fixes and technology upgrades could mitigate or resolve these issues. Fast doesn’t always mean better, so maybe the Solana team should learn from other blockchain projects that are overly cautious with their development because they realize how vital they are to the crypto community and the industry in general. .



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Why has the Solana blockchain stopped again? | Cryptocurrency


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