Ethereum has been a revolutionary project that has unlocked the full potential of blockchain technology with the introduction of smart contracts and dApps. The network has been updated from time to time and the most recent update was dubbed the ‘Istanbul’ Hardfork.
The update introduced more privacy and scaling capabilities alongside six distinct upgrades, or Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) taking the Ethereum network one-step closer to Ethereum 2.0, the much-awaited transition from the existing Proof-of-Work consensus to Proof-of-Stake.
Ethereum has always wanted to build a platform that would allow users all over the world to write decentralized applications, and use the Ethereum blockchain as a “world computer.” Right now, Ethereum is slowly trying to transition to ETH 2.0, with a long list of forks that are yet to take place.
This series of updates and improvements are designed to make the platform faster and more reliable, but the process is a long one and will take many months to complete. Joseph Lubin, one of the co-founders of Ethereum, had said earlier in May 2019:
“In a small number of months, we should have a fully operational testnet and possibly, by the end of this year we’ll have a fully operational phase 0 Ethereum 2.0.”
But as 2019 comes to an end, it looks like Lubin’s prediction was way off.
Now as the New Year approaches, Ethereum has another Hardfork lined up for the 1st of January, 2020. The upgraded is dubbed Muir Glacier and is aimed at addressing the “difficulty bomb” or the “Ice age” problem that previous hard forks had failed to diffuse.
The difficulty bomb refers to the increasing hashing difficulty in the mining algorithm that is used to reward miners. The present version of Ethereum is basically slowed down due to this process and therefore functions as a deterrent for miners who might choose to continue with proof of work (PoW) even after Ethereum has transitioned to proof of stake (PoS).
According to Ethereum developer James Hancock, the existing implementation of Ice Age is unnecessarily complex and confusing to communicate to the community. He adds that any updates to the design should be able to model the effect on the network in a straightforward way that is easy to predict when it occurs.
He further states that the upcoming update would give developers the time to decide whether they’d like to update Ice Age or remove it.
The latest upgrade will be supported by cryptocurrency exchange Binance. In a blog post on December 30, Binance said that it’d halt deposits and withdrawals prior to the Ethereum network block height of 9,200,000 selected to execute the upgrade.
The announcement also requests users to complete all deposits and withdrawals prior to the upgrade as no further announcements would be made.
So far, no other exchanges have announced the support for Muir Glacier, Binance is the first and most vital in the lot and it is expected that other exchanges would soon follow.
Ethereum has revolutionized the world of blockchain and is still the most popular blockchain among developers to build on. The World computer state might be a long way, but the enhancements that have been made so far are still keeping Ethereum ahead of the pack while on the road to Ethereum 2.0.