Ethereum Difficulty Bomb Date: Gray Glacier Update delays difficulty bomb until October

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Ethereum Difficulty Bomb
Credit: Quote Catalog via Flickr

The Ethereum difficulty bomb will usher in a new era for ETH, but when is the detonation date?

Ethereum – much like other cryptocurrencies such as Cardano and even Bitcoin – is set to undergo several major changes in the latter part of 2021. The previously included the difficulty bomb detonation, which will now likely happen.

The latest ethereum news today includes the announcement of the Ethereum merge date is closer than ever, which will further solidify the position of Ethereum in the crypto world.

Here’s when to expect the Ethereum difficulty bomb to happen.

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Ethereum Difficulty Bomb Date

The Ethereum difficulty bomb is expected rollout in October 2022 - a delay from the previous December 2021 date.

Per the recent statement posted by Tim Beiko, the network difficulty bomb date has been delayed via the Gray Glacier update from June 29. This update delayed the difficulty bomb by 100 days.

The Gray Glacier network upgrade changes the parameters of the Ice Age/Difficulty Bomb, pushing it back by 700,000 blocks, or roughly 100 days.

The initial London Hard Fork upgrade was set to include EIP-3238. This would delay the difficulty bomb to Q2 2021, but has since been pushed back.

However, in May 2021, Ethereum opted to implement EIP-3554 instead, as confirmed by developer Tim Beiko. This pushed the difficulty bomb delay forward to December to coincide with the implementation of Ethereum staking.

Since then, Beiko, alongside James Hancock, released a new Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) - EIP-4345 - which would delay the difficulty bomb until June 2022.

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This would allow the difficulty bomb to occur after the Ethereum merge date - a vital step in the Ethereum 2.0 launch.

Beiko explained this further on GitHub, stating:

Even though the merge testing is going well, it isn’t going to happen until the difficulty bomb is due to go off again (early December, as per EIP-3554). We are not ~1 month away from having client releases ready for the merge, so we need to push the bomb back again.

The Ethereum merge is expected to happen in September 2022.

The EIP-4345 proposal also notes the difficulty bomb could be pushed back even further if necessary, so this date is not guaranteed.

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Ethereum Difficulty Bomb Meaning

The Ethereum difficulty bomb will increase the difficulty level of Ethereum mining, making this proof-of-work venture less profitable for cryptocurrency miners.

Gradually, the difficulty increase will push ETH’s block time to a point whereby mining is no longer viable for miners seeking a profit.

ETH’s current block time is around 12 to 14 seconds. According to Tim Beiko, Ethereum’s block time could rise by 487% five months after the difficulty bomb, adding 64 seconds.

This will lead to the Ethereum ‘Ice Age’. Here, the Ethereum blockchain would freeze, and grind to a halt as further miners depart from the now-unprofitable network.

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Why Release the Ethereum Difficulty Bomb?

On the surface, seeing Ethereum freeze up does not seem like something the network would voluntarily do.

However, it does have its benefits.

The first, and most vital benefit is that the difficulty bomb encourages miners to depart from proof-of-work towards Ethereum’s new proof-of-stake system.

Ethereum 2.0 will see the shift to staking – a decision criticised by miners who will see their profits slashed. This difficulty bomb should deter miners from attempting to continue their efforts after Eth2’s introduction.

Aside from this benefit, Ethereum provider Nethermind said the difficulty bomb would also act as a “defense against attackers that fork Ethereum.”