“Muir Glacier” only contemplates the proposal to delay the difficulty bomb. The next evolution of the network, Serenity, is not expected until 2021.

Approximately on January 1st, 2020, the Ethereum network is expected to activate a new update called “Muir Glacier”. It will occur at the height of block 9.2 million to delay the “difficulty bomb”. The announcement responds to some agreements reached at a meeting that was held on November 29th.

A publication on the official blog of the Ethereum Foundation indicates that the “Muir Glacier” update only contemplates a proposal for improvement, EIP 2384, unlike the Istanbul fork that was successfully activated in early December and that implemented six of the eleven proposals for Ethereal improvements (EIP) planned for the fork.

The announcement also brought with it some statements on Twitter of people linked to the ecosystem, who turned their observations around the cumbersome process of conducting an update of the network, in festive dates. As can be seen on Ethernet most of the nodes are still not ready to be updated and, likely, that most will not do so until after the Christmas holidays.

For its part, the user @thibauld expressed his disagreement with two separate updates, one behind the other, clearly referring to the fact that less than a month has elapsed since the implementation of the Istanbul fork.

EIP 2384 focuses on delaying the “difficulty bomb,” which is an integrated mechanism in the Ethereum Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm that increases the value of mining every 100,000 removed blocks. With the new update, the “difficulty bomb” will be delayed by another 4 million blocks or approximately 611 days. The developers of Ethereum agreed to postpone the mechanism to avoid complications in the transition phase from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Participation (PoP).

Whilst the developers planned the Istanbul update, they initially estimated that the “difficulty bomb” would not be noticeable until mid-2020. This implied that it could be safely delayed with the update. However, these estimates were erroneous as the bomb began to be noticeable again on October 5th, 2019, at the height of block 8,600,000. The average block time was increased. According to data from Etherscan at the time of writing this article, the difficulty value is 17.15 seconds, which makes transactions take too long to process.

With the implementation of EIP 2384, this would be the third time since 2015 that the “difficulty bomb” has been delayed. It was first for 3 million blocks during the Byzantium fork in 2018 and then for another 2 million blocks during the Constantinople fork in February 2019.

In the face of the “Muir Glacier” update, the developers urged node and mining operators to update their software; however, it also clarifies that the fork will not affect cryptocurrency owners or traders. At the moment, there is no other update expected until phase 2 of the next evolution of the network, Serenity, which is unlikely to occur before 2021.

By Willmen Blanco


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