Category Archives: difficulty bomb

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Ethereum Muir Glacier Hard Fork on New Year Will Delay Difficulty Bomb by 2 Years

  • Ethereum Muir Glacier Hard Fork to activate on New Year’s Day and will delay difficulty bomb by 4 million blocks

Even though the Ethereum Istanbul hard fork occurred within the past month, another hard fork called Muir Glacier is coming on New Year’s Day, according to the Ethereum developers. This hard fork will activate at block 9.2 million, and will delay the difficulty bomb by 4 million blocks, a period of approximately two years.

This is an emergency fork to prevent the Ethereum network from slowing to a crawl. The difficulty bomb was expected to begin going off in mid-2020, but instead began to activate a couple of months ago. This is because the difficulty bomb has become unpredictable. The two-year delay will give developers time to either fix the difficulty bomb or to delete it from Ethereum’s code.

It is fortunate that the Muir Glacier hard fork is coming in only a week, since Ethereum block times have already increased from 13 seconds to 17 seconds, and would continue to increase in an exponential fashion every two weeks if the fork did not happen. Thus, without the fork Ethereum mining revenues would dwindle towards zero and transaction fees would skyrocket. Instead, the fork will result in two years of stability on the Ethereum network.

 

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Ethereum to Hard Fork in January to Prevent Ice Age

  • Muir Glacier hard fork in January to delay the difficulty bomb by several years so that it can be fixed or eliminated

The Ethereum difficulty bomb was not projected to become a problem until July, but even before the Istanbul hard fork in early December the difficulty bomb began to kick in. Apparently the difficulty bomb has become unpredictable due to a coding flaw, and a hard fork named Muir Glacier will happen in January to prevent an ice age.

The difficulty bomb is a mechanism that helps force network changes. Essentially, the mining difficulty and block times begin to rise exponentially in a stepwise fashion once every two weeks, until eventually mining profits dwindle to zero and the block times become so slow that the network stalls, and this is called the ice age. A hard fork is then required to restore the Ethereum network to normalcy, and upgrades from the developers can simultaneously be implemented during the hard fork.

So far block times have increased from 13 seconds to 17 seconds, and by early February block times will increase to over 30 seconds if no fork occurs. The Muir Glacier hard fork should come in January though, and is expected to delay the difficulty bomb by several years. This will give developers time to fix the difficulty bomb so that it stops being unpredictable, and if it cannot be fixed then the difficulty bomb will be eliminated.

 

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