Ethereum Successfully Implements Gray Glacier Hard Fork to Extend Difficulty Bomb by 700,000 Blocks

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Ethereum Successfully Implements Gray Glacier Hard Fork to Extend Difficulty Bomb by 700,000 Blocks
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The Ethereum Network’s Gray Glacier implementation has delayed the difficulty bomb till November, the tentative target for the switch to PoS.

Ethereum (ETH) developers have effected the scheduled Gray Glacier network upgrade, successfully delaying the network’s difficulty bomb. As it stands, the Ethereum Gray Glacier hard fork has extended the protocol’s difficulty bomb by another 100 days to September. Following the success of the hard fork, Ethereum’s Sepolia testnet is preparing to run through its Merge trial over the next few days.

Ethereum Gray Glacier

The Gray Glacier hard fork occurred at block height 15,050,000 on Thursday, June 30th. The network upgrade implemented the Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 5133 and solely looks to alter the parameters of Ethereum’s difficulty bomb. Before its successful implementation, the Gray Glacier hard fork required that client software providers, like Geth and Nethermind, update their Ethereum nodes. In June, the Ethereum Foundation had hinted at this update in a blogpost announcing the Gray Glacier upgrade. Part of that message read:

“If you are using an Ethereum client that is not updated to the latest version, […] your client will sync to the pre-fork blockchain once the upgrade occurs.”

The message suggests that clients who do not upgrade will remain stuck on an incompatible chain with the old rules. Furthermore, it also means that such operators would be unable to send transactions or run operations on the post-upgrade Ethereum network.

Ethereum Difficulty Bomb

Ethereum’s difficulty bomb is a perennial component of the leading smart contract platform. It is a piece of code that exponentially increases the difficulty required to mine Ether (ETH). In addition, the code also ensures the smooth execution of the network’s switch from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake consensus.

The difficulty bomb’s mechanism makes the Merge transition significantly more complicated for developers to complete. This is because it gradually slows down block creation.

The difficulty bomb was initially scheduled to go live on June 29th in anticipation of the Merge. However, due to a delay in the said Merge schedule, the need for a difficulty bomb in June became redundant. However, this is not the first time that Ethereum’s Merge would run into delays.

Over recent years, the network’s difficulty bomb has been pushed back multiple times to accommodate numerous Merge delays. So far, five different Ethereum upgrades have had their difficult bombs postponed. The upgrades include Byzantium, Constantinople, Muir Glacier, London, and the recent Arrow Glacier upgrade last December. The Arrow Glacier upgrade had its difficulty bomb pushed back from December 2021 to the middle of this year.

Ethereum Sepolia Merge

Ethereum Foundation community manager Tim Beiko touched on the Sepolia Merge. According to him, the testnet will do a detailed and extensive rehearsal of the Merge over the next few days. Furthermore, Beiko also stated:

“After years of work to bring proof-of-stake to Ethereum, we are now well into the final testing stage: testnet deployments!”

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