Ethereum’s Muir Glacier hard fork completed

On January 2, 2020, Ethereum’s Muir Glacier hard fork was activated. All of the major Ethereum network clients uploaded releases that are compatible with the Muir Glacier.

The Muir Glacier update is one of the last upgrades for the Ethereum 1.0 network. It delays the infamous “difficulty bomb” of Ethereum, which may have caused the potential collapse for operations.

The Muir Glacier update comes less than 30 days after the previous Istanbul hard fork on Dec. 7. In fact, the latest upgrade only became necessary following the Istanbul upgrade, due to a realization that estimates predicting the timing of Ethereum’s difficulty bomb for mid-2020 were wrong.

A purposeful design since Ethereum’s launch in 2015, the difficulty bomb slowly increases block time settlement so as to push the network toward Proof of Stake.

The difficulty bomb refers to the increasing difficulty level of puzzles in the mining algorithm used to reward miners with ether on its blockchain. As the puzzles become more complex, there will be a substantial lag between production of blocks on blockchain. This will slow it down in exponential terms and its economics will become less attractive to miners. The onset of this scenario is referred to as “Ethereum’s Ice Age”. During this time, Ethereum will transition from PoW (Proof of Work), which requires miners to earn ether by competing against each other to solve puzzles and earn rewards, to PoS (Proof of Stake), where rewards are distributed on the basis of staking or coin ownership.

Before the hard fork, there was some concern as to how ready the network was for the upgrade, as has been borne out by the nethermind client’s failure to sync for over two hours.

Nethermind is Ethereum’s third most popular implementation. It is currently responsible for 43 operators of the mainnet, or 0.6 % of the whole network.

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