Ethereum Service Providers Scramble to Update Software After 'Unannounced Hard Fork'

Platforms using an older version of the Ethereum client Geth experienced an accidental split of the chain Wednesday morning.

AccessTimeIconNov 11, 2020 at 10:21 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:29 a.m. UTC

The Ethereum blockchain network suffered issues Wednesday morning, with knock-on effects at related service providers.

In a service announcement soon after 08:00 UTC, Ethereum infrastructure provider Infura said it is experiencing a service outage for its Ethereum mainnet API and it was investigating the issue.

Infura provides API access to the Ethereum network for other applications and services. The outage has prompted some Infura users to halt Ethereum-based services over the issue, including Metamask and Binance.

The problems at Infura look to stem from a problem with Ethereum client Go Ethereum, or Geth.

Binance and Blockchair tweeted soon before press time tthere had possibly been a split in the Ethereum blockchain. However, Blockchair said it had fixed the issue by upgrading Geth.

"At some point Ethereum developers introduced a change in the code that led today to a chain split starting from block 11234873 (07:08 UTC)," said Nikita Zhavoronkov, lead developer at Blockchair, on Twitter.

Calling it "technically an unannounced hard fork," Zhavoronkov added that third-party services need to upgrade to fix the issue.

Talking to CoinDesk, he said the changes may have been made some time ago but caused the split today. "Those who haven’t been upgrading their Geth nodes for a while (I presume several months at least) got split with those with new Geth versions," Zhavoronkov said, adding Infura's outage likely arose from the same issue.

The price of Ethereum's ether cryptocurrency is unaffected at press time, according to CoinDesk data.

UPDATES:

10:28 UTC – Binance says it has reinstated services for Ethereum-based tokens.

10:37 UTC – Infura says its team has "identified the root cause and are preparing a fix to restore service functionality."

10:41 UTC – Added clarifying information from Nikita Zhavoronkov.

11:31 UTC – Infura says it is still implementing a fix, explaining, "The root cause was traced to several components within our infrastructure which were locked to an older stable version of the go-ethereum client which encountered a critical consensus bug at block 11234873."

13:21 UTC – Infura says it is "continuing with service recovery efforts" and most services are returning to normal.

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