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Solana faces 17-hour outage: What does it mean?

The blockchain of Solana was recently affected by a long-lasting outage. Experts discovered critical flaws in the way that Solana’s popular blockchain network functions when validating transactions.

According to the site, the network was down for 17 hours but no funds were lost. The network returned to full functionality within 24 hours. Its native token dropped by nearly 15 percent in the past 7 days to $136. This is despite having seen a huge rally of around 700 percent over these last few weeks.

What has happened?

According to Solana’s official statement: “The cause of the network shutdown was a denial-of-service attack.” Grape Protocol launched their IDO for Raydium at 12:00 UTC. Bots generated transactions that swamped the network. This caused a memory overload, which led to many validators to crash, causing the network to slow down and ultimately stall. When the validator network couldn’t agree on the current blockchain state, the network was unable to confirm new blocks.

In the midst of a network slowdown, and a significant transaction spike, “the Forwarder Queue System flooded uncontrollably,” causing the queue’s memory to grow exponentially. It was extremely difficult to process transactions that were encoded in blocks.

Block producers were able to propose multiple forks due to the combination of resource-heavy blocks and unbounded growth in forwarder queues. “The validator processes began to crash and ran out of memory. After restarting, they were unable to process all of the forks. This led to the prolonged blackout.

The key flaws of network design

Douglas Horn, Chief architect of Telos Blockchain, stated that blockchains should not stall if they are designed well. He also pointed out that there are substantial flaws in the light-fast transaction processing (1.828 live transactions per seconds) claimed by Solana.

“A large portion of Solana transactions are not user or smart contract transactions that network like Ethereum (15 TPS), and Telos (100.000 TPS), but rather include Solana‚Äôs thousands of critical consensus messages, which the chain requires. These transactions are handled by separate communications channels, which is a good thing. These claims of scalability are often misleading due to the different design. Horn explained that this design is a major reason why the Solana chain was kept locked up for more than 12 hours.

Additionally, due to the immature fee model design and the lack of prioritisation capabilities on the chain, when critical consensus messaging is mixed with regular transactions, Solana transaction queues become flooded, processing of the latter is displaced. This causes a lack in syncing between nodes, and eventually, the forking that leads to a stalled network. This mix not only results in high transaction rates per second but also exposes the blockchain to a wide range of attacks.

This would avoid potential problems like this. Horn stated that yesterday’s prioritisation of transactions could have prevented Solana from stalling on this particular exploit.

Solana vs Ethereum

Despite the fact that such outages can have a negative impact on project outcomes and image, the Coin DCX research team noted that some experts are optimistic about Solana’s prospects, due to its high energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and optimism.

Mudrex CEO and Co-founder Edul Patel pointed out that although the outage caused unrest among large sections of retail investors, SOL is still gaining traction with institutional investors. This is because a substantial portion of SOL tokens are held by institutional investors while a small fraction of it remains with retail holders.

Superfast transactions and low transaction fees are the main reasons for Solana’s popularity. It is likely that Solana will be the central hub for all blockchain gaming activity. This activity is also computationally intensive and includes payment transactions. It can compete with alto solutions and side chains on Eetherium Matic or Arbitrum. It would be fascinating to see how it evolves,” stated Gaurav Dahake (Founder & CEO of Bitbns).

Vikram Subburaj is the CEO and co-founder of Giottus Cryptocurrency Exchange. He highlights the need to have multiple layer 1 solutions in order to address network congestion. It has strong weekly inflows of institutional investors and was adopted as a non-fungible token (NFT) platform. However, network congestion also occurred back in August, prompting questions about the decentralised nature of the exchange and an abrupt diversion of attention towards Avalanche, a layer 1 solution. He explained that Solana believes multiple layer 1 solutions can co-exist in future.