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EthereumPOW Developers Reportedly Disable Difficulty Bomb as Merge Date Draws Closer

2 mins
Updated by Ryan James
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In Brief

  • In a letter, developers of the EthereumPOW chain claim to have made significant progress toward a hard fork.
  • A testnet for the new chain has been created, developers claim.
  • The group is being spearheaded by a Chinese miner leading a team of 60 developers.
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Developers of the purported EthereumPOW hard fork claim they’ve dispensed with the so-called difficulty bomb.

This claim comes hot on the heels of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin announcing a date for the upcoming Ethereum merge that may otherwise leave proof-of-work miners out in the cold.

Ethereum’s upcoming merge will change the blockchain’s transaction verification mechanism, delegating the task to validators instead of miners to reduce the energy use of the blockchain. Instead of employing expensive computing power to validate transactions, add them to a transaction block, and compete to solve complex mathematical problems, validators can contribute a ‘stake’ of ETH. This allocation of ETH becomes ‘locked,’ and the validation of transactions falls to the user who has staked the most tokens, not the one with the most significant computing power.

Ethereum developers have seeded the network’s code with a so-called difficulty bomb designed to gradually disincentivize miners part of the so-called proof-of-work blockchain as the transition draws closer.

It can be done, say miners

While the transition serves the broader goal of reducing the network’s energy consumption, it may render the expensive equipment used by miners obsolete. Hence, some miners are taking the law into their own hands by making it their mission to disable the difficulty bomb to protect their sources of income.

Known as EthereumPoW, the developers believe that, while their task is not easy, it can be done. A letter from the group claims that it has already surmounted substantial hurdles, including “disarming” the difficulty bomb and creating a testnet. Testnets are early private versions of a new blockchain on which applications can be tested. The team also responded to allegations that it was the same as a team responsible for developing the Ethereum Classic blockchain in 2015. At the time, a hack of The DAO, the first decentralized autonomous organization, divided the Ethereum community between those who sought to move funds to a new blockchain and those who believed in the original blockchain’s immutability. The latter sought to continue using the old blockchain, which was called Ethereum Classic.

The group called its new hard fork “inevitable,” to which the Twittersphere responded with jokes. The co-founder of EthHub tweeted that the chain would self-destruct. Other critics, including proponents of Ethereum Classic, warned developers behind EthereumPOW that the project would not work.

Forks are short-sighted, say analysts

News of a PoW fork surfaced earlier this month when one Chinese miner, Chandler Guo, claimed he was tapped by a Chinese company manufacturing mining equipment to pursue a new fork. Guo, who lives in San Francisco, reportedly has 60 developers working on their fork. Guo said he expects the new blockchain to issue new tokens. While the upcoming merge will change the issuance pattern of ETH, no new tokens will be issued.

Buterin commented in a webinar last week that new forks would not disrupt the merge and that the Ethereum Classic community still has a superior product in line with their values.

Analysts at Messari believe that most efforts to create hard forks have been short-sighted and undertaken without proper consideration regarding maintenance and support.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...