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A new Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) is suggesting a hardfork to the network, to solve the problem of the increasing network block difficulty called the Ice Age.
The team of Ethereum developers has announced a proposal for a new hard fork which is expected to solve problems currently associated with the Ice Age. In a recently published Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) – EIP 2387 – authored by developer James Hancock, the new hard fork if deployed, would significantly “postpone” the coming of the Ice Age. Muir Glacier is named after a glacier in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, located in Alaska.
Hancock explains that the Ethereum network is able to maintain consistency in block production time because of the algorithm that continuously readjusts the difficulty. Specifically, the difficulty is increased for block times less than 10 seconds and reduced for block times more than 20 seconds. The Ice Age, also called the Difficulty Bomb, describes the difficulty in mining algorithm as it increases, which also affects block rewards paid out to the miners on the Ethereum blockchain. Simply put, the Ice Age basically stresses the Ethereum block production rate, affecting the entire network. Hancock noted:
“It artificially adds to the difficulty in such a way that the retargeting mechanism, at some point, can not adapt to the increase, and we see increased block times throughout the network. The ice age increments every 100,000 blocks. It at first is barely noticeable, but once it is visible, there is a drastic effect on block-times in the network.”
Hancock believes that the Difficulty Bomb’s current algorithm is a little too twisted for everyone and especially difficult to explain to the Ethereum community. He believes that changes made to the network’s design should be as straightforward as possible and somewhat predictable as well. This is something he believes that the Muir Glacier hard fork will very easily handle:
“This fork would give us time to address the community to understand their priorities better as far as the intentions of the Ice Age, and give time for proposals for better mechanisms to achieve these goals.”
Hancock says that Muir Glacier will “push back the Ice Age as far as is reasonable” which will allow the team enough time to create an upgrade devoid of these problems. In the time when Ice Age is postponed, Hancock suggests two solutions. Firstly, an update could be created such that the “behaviour is predictable”. Another solution would be to completely eliminate the phenomenon.
The Difficulty Bomb has previously been extended with the first occurrence pushing it by 3 million blocks when the Byzantium hard fork was released in 2017 and the second in February this year, with the Constantinople hard fork.
In other Ethereum news, Ether (ETH) has not been performing favorably enough and has been losing weight. The market’s second-largest asset by market cap has fallen below the $148 support mark and is at $146 at press time. ETH tried to push past $150 recently but failed to hold above it, before the bearish turn that drove it down below $148. While it still fluctuates, the only way for any silver lining, however short term, is for the $148 resistance level to be broken and maintained.