The Dfinity Foundation’s Internet Computer, a scalable blockchain, experienced technical difficulties in its first-ever NFT drop.
The Internet Computer Is Having Problems With NFT Drop
ICPunks, the first ever NFT collection, was launched on Internet Computer Protocol on September 1. (ICP). However, network issues hampered the entire process.
ICPunks is a collection of 10,000 randomly generated clowns based on the American Hip-hop duo the Insane Clown Posse, with whom the network shares the ICP acronym. ICPunks could be minted for free, but when users attempted to do so, they reported being unable to load the application and claim their NFT.
According to Igor Lilic, Dfinity’s head of developer relations, the network was “not serving real user traffic anywhere close to the theoretical maximum rate.” As a result, the subnet hosting the NFT canister (smart contract) struggled to interact properly with the ICPunks’ website.
On September 1, around 20:00 UTC, the NFT minting went live. According to the ICPunks developers, 180k people were online to claim the free NFTs, and it was the network’s first time experiencing such a high volume of traffic. Users reported being unable to interact with the NFT dApp shortly after the minting began.
What appears to have happened is that a specific subnet, a network within the Internet Computer that hosted the NFT contract, was unable to handle the volume of traffic. The current subnet architecture is not set up to handle a large number of users interacting with it.
When very high traffic was detected, the nodes in that subnet (pjljw) were configured to limit user requests to query and update calls. This was put in place to prevent spam attacks and denial of service attacks on the network. Unfortunately, this precaution backfired.
Other canisters in the subnet NNS app and Distrikt were also affected. Due to high traffic, outside subnets within the IC also “experienced degraded performance.”
Despite the congestion, the subnet (pjljw) canister completed the NFT drop, and the minting of 10,000 NFTs was completed in less than 30 minutes.
Finally, poor network performance was the most common complaint from end users. The user experience was so bad that several NFT claimants posted about it on social media, blaming the NFT drop and even claiming that the whole thing was a “scam.”
The incident is not the first to show IC network issues. A developer from DFinance, a DeFi project built on IC, reported network issues during a testnet event with only 9000 users a few days before the NFT drop.
The ICPunks team had already migrated website hosting from IC to their centralized servers in anticipation of the launch’s hype. Despite the fact that they hosted the website, the team admitted that the Internet Computer was “very laggy.”
Members of the community have also pointed out that the subnet was single-threaded and only used one of the 64 cores. As a result, while the subnet was at its peak performance during the NFT drop, other cores were idle. This means that the subnet was using far less hardware than it should have.
Critics argue that IC is unfit to carry out a large-scale NFT launch, let alone implement a web-scale dApp platform. According to Kyle Peacock, a software engineer at Dfinity, IC’s “current architecture needs to change to support high traffic events like this.”
The NFT Drop Extends Previous Criticism
The Dfinity Foundation received funding from top crypto venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Polychain Capital. However, following the network’s inception, the Dfinity Foundation was heavily chastised for the distribution of ICP tokens. While the team has emphasized IC’s ability to achieve web scalability and become a world computer, the first NFT drop on the network does not support that claim. Because the network is still in beta, it is hoped that the IC team will improve the network infrastructure soon.