Solana's Proof of History is Running 30 Minutes Behind

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a year ago - 3 minutes read

Everything on Solana's blockchain is going to be incorrect now...


Solana is not looking so hot again

Just under a month ago, I wrote about Solana, the big bad Ethereum Killer, suffering yet another major outage. I have some pretty strong opinion about Solana, so if you're a fan I'm sorry. I don't think it's all it's cracked up to be, and I honestly don't see how people still believe in it.

Anyway - one its core features "decentralized time" has gotten out of sync by 30 minutes. I called it decentralized time because to me it just sounds funny and I like to have a laugh. Take a gander at the article I linked above from November of last year where they outline Solana's superior time tracking.

They claim that there's an issue with times being recorded on blockchains like Ethereum due to relying on a centralized source for said time data. With blockchains like Ethereum, transactions don't necessarily happen in chronological order and don't necessarily happen by a specific time. Solana uses its own technology "Proof of History" to determine the time on chain through a verifiable delay function.

This "works" because validators have to use this function to produce blocks to assigned time slots on chain. This gives you the ability to "infer when an event happened when you examine it". Uhhh... So like Ethereum's real time stamps but wrong. Got it.


So because validators have a local synchronized atomic clock, they never need to be resynchronized. Except for when it falls out of sync? Lol. If the major feature is always having the correct time due to validators running local clocks and it loses sync... Isn't the data going onto the chain technically wrong?

According to Solana's status page, timekeeping is running 30 minutes behind "that of wall clocks". Bro. What. First off - time on clocks is typically what time it actually is. Does time not matter when you create your own "decentralized time" that's all just relative and can't keep track of itself?

I guess in reality time is just a concept and is all just relative. But we generally agree on a centralized time that is used across the world. Of course people are in different time zones, but there's a universal time zone that anyone can reference. Why would a blockchain need to have correct timestamps anyway if it's all just relative?


If the data on chain is not matching up with "wall-clock time", then what the hell time is it recording?! Am I insane? Am I just stupid? How is this still something people trust and invest in?! When I look at the Bitcoin blockchain, I know that the time is correct because it was recorded from the central time source and recorded on chain. I guess you could argue that a decentralized time system is better but...

Only if that system actually works. Another major problem with this is that it's going to make epochs longer. Validators and delegators that receive staking rewards are paid each epoch. These epochs are going slower and leading to less payouts. Not a good look for a chain that relies on said validators to function. So not only does this time de-peg affect the validity of data on the chain... It affects the vary people that make it possible for the chain to operate.

Time data may not sound very important, but when I think of a blockchain that I would trust... That chain recording the time of transactions accurately is a major part of why I trust the information recorded on the chain. If I want to find a transaction that happened 15 days, 4 hours, and 21 minutes ago... I should be able to do that by looking at the block explorer. If the data is incorrect, how can I properly go validate that information?


I just find it silly that anyone really has any faith left in Solana. I guess when you have shit tons of venture capital money you can pay a lot of companies to use your chain... Maybe I'm just used to accurate on-chain data. Maybe I'm just too old school. Maybe Solana is the blockchain of the future. Well, the future but 30 minutes behind wall-clock time LOL.

What do you think? Am I over-reacting? Maybe. I don't really care. It's time to build and if your chain can't do something as simple as accurately recording the time... You should do some building.

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