Stress Testing: Solana Restarts Mainnet, L2 Arbitrum Goes Down, Ethereum Dodges a Reorg Attack

The faster and cheaper Ethereum competitor, Solana Network, experienced yet another “intermittent instability” on Tuesday.

Unlike on Sept. 2nd, when the Solana Mainnet beta suffered a performance degradation resulting in temporarily reducing network throughput for about an hour, this time it took several hours.

Looks like a similar resource exhaustion as to a week ago. Which is a forwarder queue flood. 2/3 of those fixes where just tagged in 1.6.23 release. Just needed a few days to soak them before release 😭

— Anatoly Yakovenko (@aeyakovenko) September 14, 2021

On Wednesday, the Solana blockchain went back to working smoothly again after the Solana validator community successfully restarted the Mainnet Beta after an upgrade to 1.6.25.

“Dapps, block explorers, and supporting systems will recover over the next several hours, at which point full functionality should be restored,” tweeted Solana Status on Sept. 15.

On Sept. 14, Solana Status first noted that the mainnet beta has been experiencing intermittent instability.

It was then found that the issue was due to “resource exhaustion” that caused a denial of service. While engineers have been working towards a resolution, validators were also “preparing for a potential restart if necessary.”

better now then when its a billion users

— Anatoly Yakovenko (@aeyakovenko) September 14, 2021

Third parties that validate transactions on the blockchain then elected to coordinate a network restart, and the community started preparing a new release.

Later on, the team shared that the blockchain actually encountered a large increase in transaction load, which peaked at 400,000 TPS (transactions per second). For comparison, Ethereum can handle only about 30 transactions per second.

As transactions flooded the processing queue, the lack of prioritization of network-critical messaging caused the network to start forking. This forking then led to excessive memory consumption, causing some nodes to go offline.

“Engineers across the ecosystem attempted to stabilize the network, but were unsuccessful,” it added.

We’re still in the early days of building fast, scalable blockchains. Issues can happen. Power to @aeyakovenko & the Solana team as they perform a restart.

— Emin Gün Sirer🔺 (@el33th4xor) September 14, 2021

However, it wasn’t just Solana (SOL) that had a bad day, the Ethereum layer 2 solution, Arbitrum, went down as well, and someone tried a block reorg attack with fake proof-of-work (PoW) on Ethereum (ETH).

Today, Arbitrum shared its outage report in which it noted that the protocol was offline for about 45 minutes. Its root cause was a bug causing the sequences to get stuck when it received a very large burst of transactions in a short period of time.

“Funds were never at risk, but the submission of new transactions stopped during the downtime,” it added. The issue has since been identified, and a fix has been deployed.

⚠️ Arbitrum is down ⚠️

No blocks for 18 minutes 🤔

— defiprime (@defiprime) September 14, 2021

Meanwhile, on Ethereum, a failed attack managed to trick a few nodes and publish a chain of roughly 550 blocks that had invalid PoW. Instead of following the network’s rules, these blocks were created at will and broadcast to the network.

While most of the nodes rejected the blocks, a small percentage of nodes running Nethermind, an Ethereum client, switched to the fake version.

But as the main blockchain overtook the length of the alternative blockchain version with the fake blocks, all affected nodes moved back onto the main blockchain, and “no immediate attention” was required from node operators.

“Another great demonstration of how client diversity makes ethereum stronger,” said Ethereum developer Marius Van Der WijdenVan.


AnTy has been involved in the crypto space full-time for over two years now. Before her blockchain beginnings, she worked with the NGO, Doctor Without Borders as a fundraiser and since then exploring, reading, and creating for different industry segments.

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