Ethereum is scheduled to undergo another upgrade in December which will delay the difficulty bomb, probably for the last time, the developers hope.
According to Ethereum core developer Tim Beiko, the Arrow Glacier upgrade will go live on block 13,773,000, around Dec 8. The exact date may vary slightly due to block times and time zones.
On Nov 11, Beiko stated that the only change will be pushing back the difficulty bomb, “hopefully for the last time.”
EIP-4345 is the only proposal included in the upgrade and it will delay the difficulty bomb until June 2022. It is hoped by then that “the merge” will have taken place and the network will be running on proof-of-stake consensus. For that reason, the developers have decided not to delay the bomb on Ethereum’s Ropsten testnet.
With the recent progress towards Ethereum’s transition to Proof of Stake, it was decided to only delay the bomb on mainnet for now and to try and run the Proof of Stake transition on Ropsten before the bomb goes off on that network.
EIP-3554 was included in the London upgrade in early August to delay the difficulty bomb until December.
The Ice Age
The Arrow Glacier network upgrade is similar to Muir Glacier which was deployed in January. It changes the parameters of the Ethereum “Ice Age,” an algorithm designed to increase the difficulty to mine Ethereum blocks over time.
The difficulty bomb refers to the increasing complexity of mathematical “puzzles” in the proof-of-work mining algorithm. When these calculations become more difficult, longer than normal block times occur and rewards for miners are decreased.
The mechanism increases the difficulty exponentially over time. This eventually leads to the “Ice Age” which is when the blockchain becomes so difficult to mine that it freezes and stops producing blocks.
Node operators will need to update their clients but Ethereum holders do not need to take any action.
ETH price outlook
Under the hood upgrades such as this rarely have any impact on Ethereum prices. At the time of press, ETH was trading down 1.7% on the day at $4,642 according to CoinGecko.
Ethereum hit a new all-time high of $4,878 on Nov 10 and is now cooling slightly from that peak. The asset has gained 31% over the past 30 days but may continue to decline if bitcoin doesn’t continue to push higher.