Ethereum one step closer to merge after successful Gray Glacier upgrade

Ethereum

What 

Ethereum developers have again pushed back the so-called difficulty bomb by rolling out the latest Gray Glacier upgrade

Why 

The difficulty bomb has been pushed back numerous times to buy developers more time to run fail-safe tests before the final merge of the two Ethereum blockchains currently running in parallel

What next 

The merge is now expected to happen in September this year

The story 

Described as the biggest event in crypto, the Ethereum merge will combine the current Mainnet blockchain, which still uses proof of work as its consensus mechanism, with the Beacon chain, which relies on proof of stake. Along with other upgrades to follow in future, the merge will ultimately shift Ethereum from proof of work to proof of stake. 

As with any technological upgrade of this scale, developers run endless tests on so-called testnets before implementing the actual upgrade. The merge has been postponed many times as developers continue with ongoing testing. 

The latest Gray Glacier upgrade to the network has delayed the difficulty bomb, which makes it increasingly difficult for miners to mine Ether on the Mainnet chain. In doing so, miners will be forced to abandon the Mainnet proof of work chain, and move over to the Beacon chain which relies on proof of stake. 

There was always the risk of the Ethereum blockchain forking should miners decide to rather continue supporting the proof of work blockchain instead of shifting to the proof of stake chain. Anticipating this, Ethereum developers programmed the network so that it becomes increasingly difficult for miners to mine Ether on the proof of work chain. At a predetermined block, it would become virtually impossible. This is known as the difficulty bomb. By delaying the difficulty bomb, it means that developers push back this predetermined block.

Ethereum uses conference city names for execution layer upgrades, while using glacier names for upgrades that only delay the difficulty bomb, hence the Gray Glacier upgrade. 

“Gray Glacier was chosen because it literally merges into another glacier, just like how Ethereum’s execution layer will soon be merged with the Beacon Chain!,” developers noted on the Ethereum blog. 

Ethereum is a complex technology. Check out our learning platform where we break down the complexities of the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency.

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