With the Muir Glacier Upgrade having happened just about after this article is released, the upgrade will make use of Ethereum Improvement Proposal 2384 in order to delay the imminent difficulty bomb.
Delaying A Loss In Network Performance
Difficulty bombs are automatic mechanisms that are hardcoded within the network to maintain average block times properly. It does so by changing the difficulty of mining needed to create a new block. This difficulty bomb incrementally adds to the mining mechanism every 100 000 blocks, eventually “freezing” into what’s come to be known as an Ice Age.
Block times have already been on the increase, as the EIP has previously noted, having become rather noticeable since October. The idea is that Muir Glacier will delay the difficulty bomb for yet another 4 million blocks, or about 600 days. This means that the estimate bomb will come around July 2021, when block times will start to creep back up.
New Year Lethargy
With this upgrade, there will be no reduction in issuance like what happened with Constantinople. The block reward will remain at 2 ETH for the time being.
The Ethereum group had advised its developers and node operators that they should implement their upgrade before the New Year. As is typical, a combination of bad timing and lazy developers meant that a good segment of the group has yet to upgrade. Ethernodes.org states that only 80% of Ethereum’s clients have moved over and synced with the network.
Dissatisfaction Among The Community
Ethereum’s community has recently grown dissatisfied with its core developers, seeing the recent delay in the upgrade as an attempt to delay ETH 2.0. A recent discussion regarding Muir Glacier has highlighted a few of the reservations the community at large has with the decision-makers of the network.
It’s been suggested that this new upgrade wouldn’t be the last stretch of the ETH 1.0 network but has been done as a necessary measure to prevent deterioration in the network’s performance. The next upgrade to the network proper will most likely be Berlin, with a list of eligible EIPs already jotted down.
ETH 2.0 is still several years from its full fruition, being a separate network in and of itself. The plan so far is to have the initial phases of the network being rolled out as this new year goes on, with the Beacon Chain being the first in the list. Here’s hoping Ethereum can bounce back from its downtrend.