The Solana blockchain recently ceased operations for approximately 5 hours, yesterday, exactly on February 6, 2024.
The good news is that the blockchain has now resumed normal operations, and the SOL price remains relatively strong, unaffected by this negative sentiment.
Temporary Halt of Solana Blockchain
According to SolanaStatus, the official Twitter (X) account providing updates on Solana blockchain conditions, the exact reason for the halt is still unclear.
As of now, the public is awaiting clarification from the Solana core development team to explain the cause of this temporary blockchain halt.
SolanaStatus website states that the cause is still undetermined as investigations into the issue are ongoing.
Two speculations are circulating on Twitter regarding why the Solana Blockchain experienced a temporary operational halt.
The first one is, it could be due to testing of updates on the Solana software client to accommodate the arrival of new clients like Firedancer from JumpCrypto and others.
Second one, is it might be due to the failure of several validators, especially leader validators, resulting in network damage beyond the capabilities of Solana’s implemented Byzantine Fault Tolerance mechanism.
The Byzantine Fault Tolerance mechanism aims to prevent blockchain halts in case of sudden validator failures or deviations.
Unfortunately, yesterday’s incident demonstrated that this mechanism may not have been implemented effectively, possibly due to Solana’s semi-centralized nature.
This semi-centralization arises from over 30% of Solana validators being controlled by 21 entities according to Solana Beach data. The Solana team itself is part of these 21 entities, increasing the risk of damage if any of them fail suddenly or act maliciously.
However, blockchain halts could also be caused by other validators abruptly failing during their turn to validate transactions, as all transaction validations on Solana occur through a rotation schedule set by leader validators, as explained in the Solana whitepaper.
Since rotation happens automatically and core developers need to intervene to change the schedule, handling such failures is not instantaneous and may require developer intervention, as was likely the case yesterday.
For now, both theories remain speculative based on previous temporary halts, as the public is still awaiting an official publication from the core developers.
The good news is that there have been software updates for validators, and all validators have restarted to resume normal operations.
Unfortunately, some validators are yet to update and restart, leading to a few validators still being inactive, potentially causing a slight slowdown in the Solana blockchain, albeit not significant.
Overall, transactions on Solana are now operational again, allowing investors and traders using this blockchain to proceed with their transactions, especially those affected by the sudden blockchain halt.
History of Solana Blockchain Issues
It’s worth noting that while this recent blockchain halt is the first in 2024, it’s not the first in Solana’s history.
Since its launch in 2020, Solana has experienced several halts due to network disruptions from problematic updates to the death of major validators.
In the current incident, Solana was down for 4 hours and 46 minutes, during which the entire network was down, and no transactions occurred except for SOL transactions on centralized exchanges relying on their liquidity.
In 2023, there was only one total halt, occurring in February, lasting 18 hours and 50 minutes, due to instability in its new software and some dead validators.
In September and October 2022, there were two total halts due to issues with newly updated validator software, both caused by bugs. The October halt lasted for 6 hours and 19 minutes, while the September one lasted for 1 hour and 19 minutes.
In June 2022, there was a total halt for 4 hours and 10 minutes due to a client software issue preventing validators from reaching consensus to create blocks.
In May and April 2022, there were total halts lasting 5 hours and 31 minutes and 2 hours and 42 minutes, respectively, due to similar client software issues as in June 2022.
In January 2022, Solana experienced six total halts averaging above 8 hours each and several instances of transaction validation slowdowns averaging around 2 hours.
January 2022 saw many updates and high volume due to increased transactions after the official start of the bear market.
In September 2021, Solana was down for 17 hours and 12 minutes due to excessive network congestion, causing validators to be unable to process transactions.
While these incidents mark significant changes for Solana, it’s clear that all updates have yet to yield robust and perfect results.
Currently, the main issue appears to be the reliance on software solely from Solana Labs. Even with Jito Labs introducing new client software, total halts can still occur, indicating a need for additional solutions to maintain network stability.
Generally, the blockchain halts during busy transaction periods, such as the current airdrop season. Therefore, Solana needs more client software to prevent total halts if both existing ones fail.
Moreover, Solana needs to invite more validators to prevent centralization, as currently, 30% of the network is controlled by 21 entities.
All of these require a process, so SOL investors must be accustomed to network disruption volatility if they intend to be long-term investors until Solana approaches perfection as a network.