Network Congestion on Solana Prompts Crypto Project Postponements

This congestion and the complications that go along with it has caused projects like Suit Up, DuckCoin, and Surge Finance to postpone their launches.

The Solana blockchain recently encountered serious congestion issues, causing disruptions across its ecosystem. This congestion led to increased transaction errors and delays, prompting projects like Suit Up, DuckCoin, and Surge Finance to postpone their launches. Luckily, efforts are underway to address these challenges. Despite these hurdles, Solana remains a dynamic hub for cryptocurrency innovation, which is highlighted by the surge in meme coin trading and the success of platforms like Pump, which has generated over $5 million in fees since March.

Technical Challenges Slow Down Solana

The Solana blockchain recently experienced some serious congestion issues, leading to a cascade of problems for its users and developers. This congestion resulted in increasing transaction errors and delays, which caused several crypto projects to delay their launches. Projects like the NFT initiative Suit Up, altcoin venture DuckCoin, and the staking rewards platform Surge Finance have all decided to postpone their activities in anticipation of a resolution to the congestion.

Anza, a software development company specializing in Solana, announced on Apr. 6 that it was addressing the network's issues through its validator client implementation, Agave.

The impact of the congestion has been felt across various facets of the Solana ecosystem, including delayed transactions for Solana's SOL tokens on platforms like Coinbase. Although the trading, as well as fiat withdrawal and deposit functionalities, remain unaffected, the network’s team has been scrutinizing the congestion for over eight hours to identify and rectify the underlying issues.

Solana co-founder Raj Gokal has responded to the issue by stating that the transaction failures are not related to the blockchain's scalability. Instead, the congestion and the resulting transaction failures have been attributed to the network's rapid growth and the increased demand for block space. Fantom network creator Andre Cronje agrees with this and he expressed support for Solana as it struggles with the congestion. Cronje believes that the network's challenges are technical in nature rather than flaws in its consensus mechanism.

The situation has naturally sparked a lot of frustration among Solana users, who have taken to social media to share their concerns about the failed transactions and the overall decline in user experience. As the community awaits the promised fixes, there is hope that the efforts of Anza and other contributors will restore the network's efficiency and reliability, which will allow some of the postponed projects to carry on.

Solana Set for April 15 Fix

Solana’s issue turned heads when more than 75% of non-vote transactions on Solana failed on Apr. 4, attributed to a surge in memecoin trading on the platform. However, this rate has seen a decrease to 64.8% since then. Mert Mumtaz, the CEO of Helius Labs—a company providing backend support exclusively for Solana—clarified on Apr. 8 that the problem stems from an "implementation bug" rather than a flaw in the design of the Solana network itself.

Mumtaz made it a point to emphasize the importance of distinguishing between design and implementation issues, pointing out that the latter are usually easier to resolve. He explained that the crux of the problem lies in the implementation of QUIC, a data transfer protocol developed by Google. QUIC's role in keeping all nodes updated on the network's state has been identified as the source of the current inefficiencies.

To illustrate the nature of the issue, Mumtaz used the analogy of car manufacturing. He argued that while all cars share basic components like four tires and an engine, different brands and models (e.g., BMW, Mercedes, Toyota) represent various implementations of this common design. If one model has steering problems, it doesn't imply a fundamental flaw in the concept of cars, but rather a specific issue with that model. Similarly, Solana's current troubles are due to the specific way QUIC has been implemented within its network, not a flaw in the blockchain's overall design.

The community has been reassured that a fix for this implementation bug is scheduled for Apr. 15. This fix is expected to involve a reconfiguration of the QUIC protocol, with plans for a more robust solution to be introduced later.

Not Solana’s First Rodeo…

In the world of blockchain technology, Solana has stepped up as a major player, known for its high throughput and low transaction costs. However, the network has not been without its challenges as it has faced several outages and periods of congestion that have tested its resilience and the patience of its users.

One incident happened in September of 2021, when Solana experienced a huge outage lasting approximately 17 hours. This disruption was attributed to a surge in transaction volume that overwhelmed the network, leading to a denial of service. The root cause was pinpointed to a flood of transactions initiated by bots during an Initial DEX Offering (IDO), which pushed the network beyond its capacity of 400,000 transactions per second, causing validators to crash and bringing the network to a halt.

Another instance of network congestion was seen in December of 2021, when Solana's performance was again hampered by high transaction volumes, leading to slow processing times and increased failure rates for transactions.

Then again in January 2022, Solana faced another outage. This time, the network was down for several hours due to what was described as "resource exhaustion" in the network. Validators struggled to process transactions efficiently, leading to widespread disruptions and a temporary loss of consensus among network participants.

Each outage and period of congestion has served as a learning opportunity for Solana, prompting the development of new strategies and technologies to decrease the likelihood of similar issues in the future. For example, the introduction of QUIC protocol improvements and adjustments to the network's resource allocation practices have been steps toward addressing the underlying causes of past disruptions. However, this protocol is now part of Solana’s current struggles.

Despite these challenges, Solana is still a hub for innovation and development in the crypto ecosystem.

Solana DEXs Lead in Trading Volume

Just yesterday, Solana-based decentralized exchanges (DEXs) lead in terms of trading volume. CoinGecko reports indicate that the top three Solana DEXs—Raydium, Jupiter, and Orca—have been at the forefront of this surge. Among them, Raydium achieved a remarkable trading volume of $2.2 billion in 24 hours, surpassing Uniswap V3 on Ethereum by almost double. Today, Raydium fell back to the 10th spot among the top DEXs with a 24 hour volume of $178,404,281.

Adding to the vibrancy of the Solana ecosystem is the rapid increase in the number of new tokens. Data from The Block reveals that the Base and Solana networks have seen a sharp uptick in token listings in recent months, with Base dominating over half of all DEX-listed tokens at the beginning of April. Solana, not far behind, contributed around 16,000 new tokens to the mix.

The growing interest in both Base and Solana networks since December of 2023 is largely attributed to the surge in meme coins. The allure of these tokens, often launched daily on Solana, is magnified by speculative price inflations, drawing more attention to the platform. Solana's appeal is boosted even more by its low transaction fees, making it a very attractive blockchain for launching these meme coins.

The meme coin craze has not only increased the popularity of the Solana blockchain but also significantly impacted the price of SOL. The token's price nearly doubled at the beginning of the year, breaking the $200 mark for the first time since the end of 2021. At press time, SOL was trading hands at $175.76 after its price dipped by more than 4% over the past day of trading. SOL was also in the red by 2.90% on its weekly time frame.

Pump's Meteoric Rise

Pump, a meme coin generator platform, has carved out quite a lucrative niche for itself amid the burgeoning meme coin frenzy on Solana. Since its inception in March, Pump has amassed over $5 million in fees, positioning it as one of the most profitable applications in the cryptocurrency space in a remarkably short timeframe. Just in the last 24 hours, the platform generated $300,000 on Solana, contributing greatly to the network's total fees of $2.5 million. With current trends and growth rates, annual revenue for Pump is projected to reach around $66 million, according to data from DefiLlama.

Pump's platform democratizes the process of meme coin creation, allowing users to launch their own tokens with just $2 in capital. Creators can customize their tokens by selecting the quantity, theme, and accompanying meme image. A unique feature of the platform ensures that when any token's market capitalization hits $69,000, a portion of its liquidity is transferred to the Solana-based exchange Raydium and subsequently burned. This mechanism has recently been extended to support the Blast and Base networks as well.

The platform boasts a safety mechanism to protect against "rug pulls," a common scam in the crypto world where token issuers abruptly remove liquidity, leaving investors with worthless assets. Pump claims to eliminate this risk by making sure all tokens issued on its platform are fair launches with no pre-sale and no team allocations.

The ease of creating tokens on Pump has led to an explosion of new issuances, with rates reaching up to 35 tokens per minute during peak times. Despite the massive volume of tokens generated since March, only a handful have achieved market capitalizations exceeding $10 million. Among the standout successes are Shark Cat (SC) and Hobbes, which have reached valuations of $100 million and $35 million, respectively.