Solana suffers seven-hour cut after 'tsunami of bots' try to mint NFTs

The blockchain's Candy Machine minting programme struggled under a flood of traffic, causing it to crash

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The Solana blockchain is recovering after going dark in a seven-hour cut, caused by a significant rush of bots trying to mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the crypto network.

An NFT minting programme for Solana called Candy Machine struggled under a tsunami of traffic from bots seeking to push through transactions late on Saturday.

This caused Solana’s mainnet to fall out of consensus and crash as nodes belonging to validators collapsed under the weight.

Validators are computers that verify transactions to maintain the integrity of the blockchain.

Developers and engineers from the Solana Foundation and Jump Crypto said the traffic reached a record-breaking high of four million transactions a second at about 8pm in London on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, validators had successfully completed a cluster restart and the Solana network was operating at degraded performance as nodes slowly came back online.

While Solana’s rise to the upper echelon of cryptocurrency's top alternatives to Bitcoin and Ethereum has been rapid, the influx of bots and stability concerns meant this was not even its longest blackout in recent months.

The digital asset’s network suffered a wave of blackouts and service issues lasting as long as 18 hours in January, prompting ire from frustrated traders who watched their portfolio values decline while unable to offload tokens.

Overnight, the price of Solana’s SOL token fell as much as 7.4 per cent to $83.90, data on Bloomberg show. By 7.34pm UAE time on Sunday, Solana had pared back some of its overnight losses, but was still down 3.21 per cent at $89.67. It is about 67 per cent below its record high of $259 recorded back in November.

Solana Labs co-founder, Anatoly Yakovenko, applauded the network’s validators for working together so quickly in a tweet after the outage, saying he had been in transit while the chaos unfolded.

“It’s amazing to see so many new folks step up and lead and take ownership of recovery,” he added.

In a tweet reposted by a Solana Twitter account monitoring the network’s status, Candy Machine operator Metaplex said it now plans to use a 0.01 SOL ($0.89) penalty that will incur whenever a wallet attempts to complete an invalid transaction, “which is typically done by bots that are blindly trying to mint”.

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The creator of that Candy Machine will be given discretion on how to use funds collected from such penalties.

Developers in Solana’s technology-focused Discord server said wallets attempting to complete SOL transactions may still experience issues for several hours until the network becomes stable again.

Austin Federa, Solana Foundation’s head of communications, reassured investors that funds remained safe during the blackout.


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Updated: May 01, 2022, 10:14 PM