Ethereum’s developers have announced yet another delay to the “difficulty bomb,” part of the consensus algorithm that ultimately makes Ethereum unminable.
The news is bad news for ethereum enthusiasts looking to complete the ethereum 2.0 merger in August. While ConsenSys researcher Mikhail Kalinin officially kicked off the ethereum upgrade last July, different developers have since updated the wider community to migrate ethereum’s energy-intensive proof-of-work progress algorithm to a PoS algorithm.
While no official release date has been announced, ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin previously said that barring any major issues, the upgrade could roll out by August.
Difficulty bomb delay
The latest developer update, released Friday, describes potential delays in deploying a “difficulty bomb,” which, when activated, gradually guides miners off the blockchain by increasing mining difficulty until ethereum cannot be mined.
The developers have deployed the difficulty bomb and have delayed it before.
On Friday, the issues prompted developers to push back the release date of Ethereum 2.0 after testing a buggy merge on the Ropsten testnet, one of Ethereum’s oldest testnets. According to one developer, Danny Ryan, 14% of network validators, including those responsible for securing the network, are offline when new code is deployed.
Regardless, Ryan said he would “jump with joy” if the code was deployed on the main ethereum blockchain in its current state. He summed up the Ropsten test as a situation where 9% of validators had configuration issues, and two small bugs affected some stakers (those who locked tokens for a chance to validate transactions and secure the proof-of-stake network).
Other developers, however, were more cautious, advocating deferring until all issues were resolved.
“Delaying it will give you time,” Thomas Jay Rush said on the conference call, assisted by lead developer Tim Beiko.
“It looks bad for the community, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Beiko believes restarting the difficulty bomb can give developers some breathing room and prevent burnout.
“If we do delay that, I think it should be a realistic delay to still maintain a sense of urgency. But too much pressure can burn out the team; that’s also a situation we don’t want to be in.”
Another developer, Alexey Sharp, said they were already going all out and didn’t need a “sense of urgency”.
Beike is confident that it will be released this year
Beizi admitted that they have not yet entered the mainnet code, i.e. the code is not ready to merge with the current Ethereum blockchain.
Buterin did say that the merger could be delayed if developers need more time, with a September or October release expected. Beko told Bloomberg that a merger is unlikely to happen sometime this year, citing a 90-99 percent chance.
Difficulty bomb latency is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a post-deployment failure would be catastrophic for the network.
On the other hand, the longer it takes for developers, the longer it takes for other proof-of-stake blockchains to encroach on Ethereum’s market share.
The world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market share fell 6.4% yesterday and is down 66% from its all-time high in November.
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