While the Solana network hasn’t experienced a full outage since September’s extended downtime, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing the last few months for the rising layer-1 blockchain. Following recent network performance issues, Solana Labs co-founder and CEO Anatoly Yakovenko has detailed the platform’s “growing pains” as it scales to meet demand.
Late last week and into the weekend, Solana users took to social media and Discord to complain of frequent issues. Transactions on the network were getting stalled, often taking considerably longer than normal to complete or outright failing as the network struggled to maintain its typical throughput level measured in transactions per second (TPS).
In a statement shared with Decrypt this morning, Yakovenko wrote that the mark has reached a recent average of 800 TPS, down from the typical mean above 3,000 TPS. (For context, Ethereum, the leading smart-contract blockchain network, can handle roughly 15 transactions per second, on average.)
With about a quarter of the usual transaction throughput on Solana, users attempting to send and receive funds, interact with DeFi tools (peer-to-peer lending and trading applications), and buy and sell NFTs have had issues.
Yakovenko disputes claims that the network went down and data from blockchain explorers support that view. But even if Solana was still functioning, it did so at a weakened level. Solana’s own status website shows a “partial outage” for nine days so far in January, citing either “degraded performance” or “network instability” as the reason for each.
“The network has not experienced any periods of downtime since September,” Yakovenko wrote today. “Despite that, the user experience is not what it should be today.”
Unlike September’s downtime, which was blamed on an overload of transactions submitted by bots attempting to manipulate a token launch, Yakovenko wrote that the “overwhelming majority” of recent transactions are legitimate—“from normal market DeFi activity, not malicious users or coordinated attacks.”
However, the transactions are becoming more complex in nature, he writes. As Solana’s DeFi market gains traction, more users are submitting compound transactions that require additional resources. For example, a user might borrow from lending protocol Solend and then tap the Raydium automated market maker.
With more and more of these complex transactions in the mix, Solana validators are struggling to keep on top of the constant flow of user demands. “The network is experiencing growing pains as it onboards a new class of sophisticated builders and users,” Yakovenko wrote.
How long will the growing pains continue? The biggest immediate issue, pertaining to "duplicate transactions" coming to validators, was resolved in the mainnet beta 1.8.14 update that was released over the weekend. Decrypt has reached out to Solana representatives for additional details on the issue and how it was resolved. In his statement, Yakovenko said that Solana’s core developers are currently testing additional scaling solutions that are expected to roll out in eight to 12 weeks.
“Developers have made lots of progress on improving network performance, but the work is ongoing,” he added. “The last 24 hours have shown these systems need to be improved to meet the demands of users, and support the more complex transactions now common on the network.”
As Decrypt reported this morning, Solana’s SOL token has been battered especially hard by the recent cryptocurrency market decline. SOL is now down 42% in the last week—the worst hit of any coin in CoinGecko’s top 20 by market cap—at a current price above $85.
Solana has rebounded slightly this morning, but has still lost 13% of its value in the past 24 hours. The wider crypto market is down less than 5% during that span. Per CoinGecko, SOL has now lost 67% of its total value from its all-time high price of nearly $260 set in November.
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