A lot of things are changing or set to change in the Ethereum ecosystem. The recent second part of Istanbul is barely behind us, and the focus shifts to Muir Glacier. This upgrade is crucial to the Ethereum ecosystem as a whole.
What is Muir Glacier Again?
Anyone involved with Ethereum will know the mining ecosystem is a bit unusual. This cryptocurrency project has a builtin “mining difficulty bomb”. That bomb affects the mining difficulty retargeting mechanism. As more network blocks are mined, the difficulty bomb has a bigger impact.
Eventually, the Ethereum mining difficulty bomb will make it impossible to mine ether. Avoiding such a “disaster’ has been a challenge for the developers. The eventual switch to proof-of-stake will play a crucial role in this regard. It will still take a while for any of these changes to officially go into effect.
What is the Next Upgrade About?
Come January 1,2020, the Muir Glacier update will go into effect. It will introduce some core changes for Ethereum users and miners alike.
The first change is how it further delays the mining difficulty bomb. More specifically, it pushes back the “problem” for another 4 million blocks. This equals to 611 days of addition mining. It is not the first time such a delay is introduced either.
In a previous network upgrade, the developers delayed the difficulty bomb in a similar manner. Rather than getting rid of the bomb altogether, the developers take a different approach. The current short block times need to be preserved at all cost. A more permanent solution to the difficulty bomb will follow in the future.
Getting the Timing Wrong
It is worth noting this Muir Glacier update was not planned to take place so soon. Originally, the developers expected this to become an issue in mid-2020. However, the current block times are on the increase. This is a telltale sign of the mining difficulty bomb weighing on the network.
Increasing block times are problematic in many different ways. First of all, they create delays in terms of processing transactions. Secondly, they increase blockchain bloat for Ethereum. Third, the network transaction fees tend to spike when this situation unfolds. For now, all of these crises will be averted come January 1st.