On September 14, 2021, the Solana network experienced a major outage that lasted for over 17 hours resulting in $11 billion worth of investor money being stuck in limbo.
Solana, being one of the most prominent blockchains, sent the entire cryptocurrency community into a frenzy, and the debates of centralized systems vs decentralized systems and PoW network vs PoS systems resurfaced again.
The Solana network outage
Solana came out with a preliminary investigation report into the outage titled ‘9-14 Network Outage Initial Overview’ on September 20. A report on the network breakdown said, “The cause of the network stall was, in effect, a denial-of-service attack.
At 12:00 UTC, Grape Protocol launched their IDO on Raydium, and bots generated transactions that flooded the network. These transactions created a memory overflow, which caused many validators to crash, forcing the network to slow down and eventually stall.”
Solana claims that its network can process 710,000 TPS; however, the network failure and resource exhaustion happened when the network touched a load of 400,000 TPS.
Solana combines the Proof of Stake consensus algorithm — PoS for short — with a novel proof-of-history, or PoH system. During the outage, the network went offline when the validator network could not agree on the current state of the blockchain, which prevented the network from confirming new blocks.
Notably, this incident was not the first time in Solana’s history, as they had previously experienced a similar breakdown in December 2020.
The problem of centralization in Proof of Stake
A look into Solana’s outage shows two crucial aspects of systematic failures in the network: one, resource exhaustion, and another, delay in consensus among the validators to take a quick decision.
While the former represents the weakness of many digital infrastructures, the latter shows that despite decentralization key to Proof of Stake blockchain, the power to take essential decisions is centralized in a few people. These aspects are among the common vulnerabilities of PoS networks and the financial ecosystem being built on them.
One of the driving factors behind cryptocurrency is the fact that it is decentralized. This means no individual or group controls it. Instead, it is controlled by everyone participating in the particular cryptocurrency network. The more people in the network, the more resistant it is to different kinds of attacks.
In Proof-of-Stake, someone’s chance of getting a block depends on how much stake the individual owns in the network. The PoS system favors entities with a higher amount of tokens above those with lower amounts. Meaning, that more substantial stakeholders end up with larger profit margins, and if rationally approached, they would keep their coins to increase the production ability.
So a more substantial stakeholder grows faster than a minor stakeholder. At a certain point, the cost of being part of the mining operation would start to be too high, causing small stakeholders to drop out, causing centralization.
Proof of Work with scaling
Proof of Stake is a newer consensus mechanism created to solve the problems of an expensive mining setup, high energy use, and scalability problems of Proof of Work blockchains. However, Proof of stake has a security risk due to a handful of owners trying to control a significant portion of the network currency. But what if there is a Proof of Work consensus system that could scale easily while being energy efficient?
The creators of Kadena have a solution to this; a PoW blockchain with scaling capabilities better than most PoS blockchains out there. Kadena is the fastest layer-1 PoW blockchain today, utilizing a sharding solution capable of delivering infrastructure-grade performance for the DeFi economy.
They are the only project with scalable Proof of Work, which means the network can grow limitlessly without sacrificing security while providing enough throughput for any application that might come along. This means that the IDO on Solana that caused the network failure could have easily been done on Kadena.
As a matter of fact, the capacity of Kadena’s network is already such that it can settle the entire stock market daily, without breaking a sweat.
Kadena’s scaling mechanics combined with their native Smart Contract language Pact can be used to build fast, secure, and scalable blockchains. Applications developed on Kadena’s public blockchain can be used to easily and safely scale, including Kadena’s protocol coin KDA (a Pact smart contract).
Between Pact and their scalable blockchain network, Kadena is a protocol that can be used for any type of application, from NFTs to DeFi or Enterprise Blockchain.
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