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Solana Blockchain Experiences Major Outage, Disrupting Its Record Uptime Streak

The Solana blockchain experienced a significant outage due to a BPF loader failure, disrupting its nearly one-year uptime streak, but was quickly resolved through a coordinated network restart.

February 6, 2024 by Sheldon

In a surprising turn of events, the Solana blockchain network experienced a significant outage today, causing a temporary halt in block production. This incident interrupts Solana's impressive reliability run, falling short of completing a full year of uninterrupted service just 20 days after boasting a 346-day streak of 100% uptime.

The disruption began at approximately 09:53 UTC and lasted for around five hours, marking a rare downtime for a network celebrated for speed and efficiency. Shortly after the network ceased block production, engineers from the Solana ecosystem quickly mobilized to address the issue. Within an hour, efforts were underway to prepare a new validator software release to patch the problem that caused the network to stop.

The Solana Status Twitter account was critical in communicating updates and advising validator operators to prepare for an upgrade and a network restart. Following the preparation phase, validators began generating snapshots from their local ledger state, setting the stage for the network's recovery. The Solana team announced the availability of release version v1.17.20, urging validators to upgrade and follow the provided restart instructions.

This network restart was notably a coordinated effort, emphasizing decentralized decision-making within the Solana ecosystem. For the restart to be successful, a supermajority stake of 80% needed to be online with the new software update. Achieving this milestone took nearly three hours, but once met, the network resumed full operations and began producing blocks again.

Matthew Sigel, Head of Digital Assets Research at VanEck, shared his analysis of the outage, which was later confirmed by Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko. According to Sigel, the root cause was linked to a failure in the BPF loader—a critical component for deploying, upgrading, and executing programs on the Solana network. This issue had been identified on the testnet, and although a fix was developed, it had not been implemented pending further testing. The outage may have been triggered manually due to this known bug.

The Solana community and investors are now awaiting a detailed post-mortem report from the Solana Foundation, which will provide further insights into the outage and the measures taken to prevent future disruptions. This incident serves as a reminder of the technical challenges facing even the most robust blockchain networks and the importance of continuous improvement and vigilance in the rapidly evolving digital asset space.

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