The world’s second largest crypto asset has had a pretty dismal year, ending it almost 7% lower than it began 2019. Ethereum fundamentals have not really faltered though and an impending hard fork is another step in upgrading the platform.
Ethereum Muir Glacier Imminent
In short, the mechanism maintains an average block time through manipulating the mining difficulty required to produce a new block. The difficulty bomb incrementally adds to this mechanism every 100000 blocks until it ‘freezes’.
It started to get noticeable around block 8600000 in early October when block times increased from 13 to 14.3 seconds, increasing exponentially as the mechanism does its thing. Without this upgrade block times would have been at 30 seconds by February slowing the network considerably.
This upgrade will delay the difficulty bomb for another 4 million blocks or roughly 610 days so the chain would be back at 20 second block times around July 2021.
There has been a lot of angst recently from Ethereum developers and detractors who were unhappy about having to work on a holiday to prepare for the hard fork.
It was pointed out though that nodes can and should have been prepared well before today. According to Ethernodes.org 20% are still not ready for the upgrade.
ETH Prices Still Bearish
While Muir Glacier is fresh on the heels of Istanbul, it is a key step towards a larger upgrade and consensus shift to PoS. The first step for this will be Phase 0, or Beacon Chain, which has been slated for the first half of this year.
Vitalik Buterin has offered ideas to speed up this migration which seems to be causing a great deal of disquiet among the crypto community.
Most of the concern appears to be over prices rather than network performance as ETH is still down over 90% from its peak. At the moment it remains buried under the crypto winter ice below $130 but continued development and improvement should be the bellwether of change in 2020.