Final: Ethereum will conduct Muir Glacier hard fork on 04 January 2020

  • During yesterday’s Core Devs Meeting, the Muir Glacier hard fork was finalized.
  • The activation of the hard fork will take place at block number 9.069.00, presumably on 04 January 2020.

The core developers of Ethereum confirmed the Muir Glacier hard fork yesterday and thus the delay of the Difficulty Bomb by 4 million blocks. At the Ethereum Core Devs Meeting #77, which took place yesterday, the participants stated that there is a common consensus in the Ethereum community about the activation of EIP 2387. This will delay the Ethereums “Iceage” by 4 million blocks, equivalent to about 1.7 years.

The biggest concern in the community was the long delay of 1.7 years, as this could lose an incentive to complete Ethereum 2.0 quickly. Eric Conner, developer of Gnosis, refuted this argument and explained in the Ethereum Magicians chat:

I really don’t know why people keep associating this with eth2 development. Yes the ORIGINAL idea was to not allow stagnation but that’s an ancient thought at this point. As Peter has already pointed out, eth2 is now mostly entirely independent of eth1. […] We should really stop combining these two ideas. A delay in the difficulty bomb in no way delays eth2 development.

As Hudson Jameson stated at the Core Devs Meeting, the period could also be shortened later in a hard fork if there is a need. For the activation of EIP 2387, however, this question does not represent an obstacle, so the unanimous opinion, as to why the EIP was finalized.

Another objection was that the incentive for the miners to upgrade could be lost if the Difficulty Bomb is further delayed. Tim Beiko explained in ETH Magicans chat that the completion of Ethereum 2.0 fits very well into Muir Glacier’s schedule and that both should occur at about the same time:

With regards to the Finality Gadget, I doubt we’ll see it live on mainnet in <1 year. This would come fairly close to the ~1.5 years in which the bomb would go off again. If a large majority of Ethereum users & infrastructure providers consider the finality-gadget chain to be the correct one, then miners have an incentive to follow that chain given that it will be “ETH” and have most/all activity/economic value tied to it.

The activation of the Muir Glacier hard fork is planned for block number 9.069.00. Due to a difficulty upgrade in a few days, the exact date is not yet exactly predictable. However, as Péter Szilágyi explained during the call, the Muir Glacier hard fork is likely to take place on January 04, 2020.

What is the impact of Ethereum Muir Glacier hard fork?

The Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) for Muir Glacier was published at the end of November with EIP 2384 and later concretized by James Hancock with EIP 2387. The EIP, known as “Muir Glacier”, will further delay the Difficulty Bomb in the Ethereum Network.

The Difficulty Bomb, along with the retargeting algorithm, is responsible for Ethereum achieving a constant block time. The retargeting algorithm ensures that if a block time is greater than 20 seconds, the difficulty level is reduced, and if a block time is less than 10 seconds, the difficulty level is increased. This mechanism leads to an increasing difficulty of ETH to mine, which in turn leads to an increased time expenditure for the extraction of a new block.

This mechanism serves as a deterrent to miners who may choose to continue with the Proof of Work (PoW) even after Ethereum has switched to the Proof of Stake (PoS) with Ethereum 2.0. However, the Difficulty Bomb occurred earlier than expected and became increasingly apparent, with average block times increasing by almost two seconds within a month. In response, Muir Glacier was proposed as an “emergency” hard fork, which is now expected to be activated on January 4th.

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Jake Simmons

Jake Simmons has been a crypto enthusiast since 2016, and since hearing about Bitcoin and blockchain technology, he's been involved with the subject every day. Beyond cryptocurrencies, Jake studied computer science and worked for 2 years for a startup in the blockchain sector. At CNF he is responsible for technical issues. His goal is to make the world aware of cryptocurrencies in a simple and understandable way.

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