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Solana Releases Comprehensive Report on February 6 Mainnet Beta Outage, Traced to Legacy Program Complication

The February 6, 2024, outage of Solana's Mainnet Beta was caused by a complication with legacy programs, as detailed in Solana's comprehensive report compiled by Anza.

February 9, 2024 by Sheldon

The Solana blockchain, known for its high-speed transaction capabilities, experienced a significant network outage on Tuesday, Feb 6, halting operations for approximately five hours. The root cause, now identified and addressed, lay in a complex technical hiccup associated with the blockchain's program execution system.

Solana Status has now published a report on the root cause compiled by the engineering team at Anza. The issue stemmed from Solana's Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation cache, a sophisticated mechanism designed to speed up transaction processing by efficiently recalling and executing program instructions. Think of it as a high-tech shortcut system that suddenly started misfiring due to a glitch with older, so-called legacy programs.

In a real-world analogy, imagine a library where books are frequently read in a special section for quick access. However, due to a cataloging error, certain books are never recognized as part of this collection. They are subjected to a repetitive and unnecessary check-in process whenever requested. This delays access and creates a loop that effectively paralyzes the system. This was precisely what happened with Solana. The blockchain's JIT cache encountered a loop with certain older programs, causing it to recompile them repeatedly instead of efficiently accessing and executing their instructions. This glitch resulted in a network stall, as the system became bogged down in an infinite loop, unable to process transactions or move forward.

The Solana ecosystem engineers swiftly identified and remedied the issue, implementing a fix that prevents such recompilation loops by updating how the system handles and recognizes these older programs. This solution involved disabling the deployment of problematic legacy loaders, ensuring that all program instructions could be correctly and efficiently accessed without falling into the recompilation trap.

As Solana resumes normal operations, the incident is a valuable learning opportunity for Solana's engineers and the broader blockchain community, emphasizing the need for ongoing improvements and safeguards in these rapidly evolving digital platforms.

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