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Ethereum’ Gray Glacier Difficulty Bomb Pushback Impact the Merge?

Ethereum Merge
Ethereum Merge

Although there are many liquidations and layoffs in the cryptocurrency industry, Ethereum developers are working toward the Merge, the blockchain network’s planned transition to a new, more energy-efficient mechanism for creating blocks and maintaining security.

Ironically, Ethereum has seen a positive phase in its development history at the same time as the markets are in a downturn.

The network will soon switch to a more energy-efficient proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism from its current proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm, where computers fight to issue blocks and earn rewards. PoS randomly chooses verifiers to add new blocks to the blockchain if they “stake” 32 ethers with the network.

A couple of weeks ago, when the Ropsten Testnet (test network) smoothly converted to PoS, Ethereum had a promising Merge dress rehearsal.

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Testnets are Ethereum networks that let developers explore and test new applications without endangering actual money.

The Ropsten Merge was largely seen as a significant success, despite a few minor difficulties, and other such trial runs will occur on many other Ethereum Testnets over the coming months.

In the event that the test runs go off without a hitch, Ethereum should finally be prepared to start its formal Merge into a PoS network.

Ethereum Developers Tread Carefully

Although switching from PoW to PoS has been on Ethereum’s roadmap since 2015, this engineering attempt has no actual precedence. With a market valuation of $140 billion, Ethereum poses a serious risk to the economy.

Due to the fact that there is so much at risk, Ethereum’s engineers have gone to great lengths to guarantee that the switch to PoS goes off without a hitch.

Although justified, the project has seen a number of problems as a result of this prudence. The switch to PoS was supposed to happen as early as 2019, however every time it seemed like the Merge formerly known as “Ethereum 2.0” would happen, the schedule continued to retreat back a couple of extra months.

The Merge has never been delayed, which will make Ethereum’s core developers snarl. Technically, there has never been a set date for its release.

However, that is only semantics. The Merge timetable has consistently gone above most people’s expectations.

The Difficulty Bomb and Delay in Merge

This time, the Merge actually does seem to be close at hand, but with the news that the so-called “Difficulty Bomb” would be postponed for a few months, the path to PoS seems to be growing longer by the day.

According to EthHub, Ethereum‘s “Difficulty Bomb” refers to a system that, at a certain block number, raises the level of difficulty of the challenges in the proof-of-work mining algorithm.

This causes longer-than-usual block delays and, as a result, lowers ETH payouts for miners. This mechanism causes the difficulty to grow steadily over time and finally results in the so-called “Ice Age,” in which mining slows to a standstill and the chain stops creating blocks.

Ethereum’s creators have traditionally touted the “Difficulty Bomb” as bait for putting the Merge into practice.

It is required to update the entire network in order to move the Difficulty Bomb, although doing so might cause developers some trouble if it isn’t absolutely necessary.

The network will become sluggish as the Bomb approaches, finally becoming useless.

The Difficulty Bomb, that’s not anticipated to totally stall the network for yet another couple of months, has already started to slow block issuance sufficiently that it has become obvious, according to a developer on Ethereum‘s bimonthly “All Core Devs” call on June 10.

Developers consequently consented to postpone the Bomb by 700,000 blocks, or around 100 days.

This will enable companies a few more months to conduct testing and make final preparations for the Merge without running the danger of unjustifiably slowing down the network.

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Is The Bomb Serving Any Real Purpose?

The Difficulty Bomb is one of Ethereum’s peculiarities, according to Ben Edgington, product lead at the Ethereum development company ConsenSys.

Edgington doesn’t believe that it truly fulfils the aim of operating as a system can be expressed for developers. An example is having these Bomb-only branches. The third one in Ethereum history is going to happen.

Edgington claims that the Bomb’s recurrent delays (without any changes to PoS) are proof that it is not performing as anticipated. According to Edgington, there is already sufficient reason for the Merge to be released by Ethereum developers.

What the Product Lead of Ethereum Thinks

He is aware that not delivering has a price such as there are environmental costs, issuance costs, and costs associated with not using the most reliable consensus process. Edgington adds that proof-of-stake is generally superior to proof-of-work which incurs a heavier cost with the merger being delayed.

He is not the only one who feels the Bomb has no purpose. The Bomb is incredibly valuable for many reasons, not just as a forcing function for the Merge, according to Tim Beiko, who conducts the All Core Devs conference in favor of the Ethereum Foundation.

What Tim Beiko Thinks

According to Beiko, the first benefit is that it makes users actively choose whether or not to utilize the network.

Client teams, who provide the software that powers the Ethereum network, must update their code each time the Difficulty Bomb is delayed. The so-called Gray Glacier network update is scheduled on June 29.

Client teams must collaborate to improve their service simultaneously when the network is updated. Teams who don’t collaborate run the danger of splitting the network into two blockchains, or forking.

Beiko believes that the client teams should actively choose to update and delay the Difficulty Bomb since they will later need to train their update skills again for more significant changes, such as the Merge itself.

The concept that it makes it a little tougher to produce a fraudulent fork of Ethereum is the second argument for the Difficulty Bomb, which is one Beiko believe is probably much underappreciated.

Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin Unlimited, Bitcoin Gold, and more forks existed two or three years ago. The main reason you don’t see them on Ethereum is that they need users to execute the updated software in addition to a one-line modification, unlike many of these Bitcoin splits.

Ethereum merge date

Since the Difficulty Bomb makes creating a new variant of Ethereum a little bit more challenging, Beiko believes it can help avoid fake forks. The Difficulty Bomb will ultimately cause an Ethereum fork to grind to a halt, making it unusable, unless the company behind the fork has an engineer modifying Ethereum’s code to eliminate it.

Beyond making the technical modification, Beiko added, you also need to persuade them to download it. It is not possible to just code Ethereum from scratch, take out the Difficulty Bomb, and start a new network.

In order to enable an Ethereum fork, node operators—the individuals with machines that maintain blockchains up and running—will also need to update their software. That means creating a community that is committed to your project and is prepared to put in a little more work to upgrade their software is also necessary before launching an Ethereum fork.

That, in his opinion, is quite beneficial because it both reduces the number of low-effort forks and, in the event that one does occur, puts a low technical bar on what has to be done, Beiko added.

How Does This Impact The Merge?

Edgington and Beiko uniformly agreed that the Bomb’s resistance won’t significantly affect the schedule for the Merge. They claim that delays and coordination issues are an inevitable part of the process of developing open-source software across numerous teams and time zones, bomb or no bomb.

Due to the fact that things are moving at the slowest pace, decision-making is frequently difficult which results in things getting pushed back for another week or another week.

According to Edgington, all this adds up over time and there will be a possibility for timelines to get extended- in this distributed development community. He also believes that they are on a good track to deliver the Merge fairly soon as long as they are aware and have a feeling of urgency that there is a need to get this done.

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Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has said that the Merge may be available in August. Before Ethereum’s important developer conference, DevCon, which takes place in October, according to Edgington, it will occur.

Beiko claims that a catastrophic incident would be required to stop the Merge before the end of the year. The Ropsten Testnet Merge was a hopeful sign that a genuine Merge would eventually be close by, but the wait is still ongoing.

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