Solana’s co-founder in an interview with CNBC asserted that Bitcoin needed to change to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) to remain relevant. However, it looks like PoS is not working very well for Solana. The Solana blockchain has been experiencing multiple outages since May. As a result, validators in the network were not processing new blocks for several hours. Applications built on Solana’s blockchain were also taken offline multiple times.
But, how did the outage happen?
Solana blockchain stopped creating new blocks due to something called a run-time bug. As a result crypto-miners or ‘validators’ were not able to mine new blocks and earn rewards. Run time bug causes a situation where validators process failed transactions twice, leading to a complete stoppage of the network.
Mining is essentially a verifying game. Every transaction that occurs on any blockchain has to be verified by crypto miners. If a failed transaction gets verified by miners, the whole blockchain is disrupted. This is the disadvantage of the PoS consensus mechanism.
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Unlike Proof-of-Work (PoW) used by Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc where every miner is independently verifying transactions, PoS chooses one miner from the mining pool. So, if the miner verifies a false transaction, the whole blockchain becomes non-functional. This also causes blockchain to split into two parts, ultimately stopping blockchain for hours altogether.
Explaining the issue, a Solana blockchain developer on Twitter said, “Chain splits occur when two parts of the network compute a different state given the same transactions for any reason. They are a class of bugs that are hard to prevent entirely, even with large test coverage, and affect any chain.” Every transaction that happened during this time was nulled by the Solana team. The network was restored after over four hours and the news was shared via the blockchain’s official Twitter handle.
It is worth noting that PoW blockchains do not get affected by run-time bug issues. This is because unlike PoS crypto miners use specialised devices to validate every transaction.
Solana says that it has addressed the issue with ‘double processing power’. But, we cannot be sure whether outages will continue to happen. Notably, this was the eighth time Solana blockchain stopped, causing investors fortune and their time.
Meanwhile, Solana claims that a single transaction on its network consumes less energy than two Google searches and 24 times less energy than charging your phone, according to a report by the Solana Foundation.
In other news, Ethereum is also switching to PoS, in a bid to go eco-friendly. However, a lot of research is yet to be done to understand the risks associated with PoS and then mitigate them. For now, it seems more cryptocurrencies are likely to follow PoS in the future.