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With Gray Glacier update, Ethereum dodges difficulty bomb

The Ethereum networkโ€™s scheduled major upgrade, Gray Glacier, has officially gone live on the network, pushing the difficulty bomb back by 700,000 blocks, or roughly 100 days.

The update was rolled out with the publication of block 15,050,000 on the cryptocurrency network โ€” the world’s second largest by market value โ€” and was announced by Tim Beiko, an influential Etherum developer, on Twitter.

Data from Ethernodes shows that only 65% of clients were fully prepared for the Gray Glacier upgrade.

A difficulty bomb is a mechanism that is intended to phase out proof-of-work from Ethereum as it transitions to proof-of-stake.

As EthHub explains, โ€œthis mechanism increases the difficulty exponentially over time and eventually leads to what is referred to as the ‘Ice Age’ โ€“ that is, the chain becomes so difficult to mine that it grinds to a halt and stops producing blocks (freezes).โ€ However this mechanism has been with Ethereum since it’s release in 2015 and has been always pushed over the horizon.

The update has reset the start of the already-underway difficulty bomb to September. As a result, block times have returned to normal and rewards have increased.

The difficulty bomb mechanism has been pushed back in five previous network forks: Byzantium, Constantinople, Muir Glacier, London, and the most recent Arrow Glacier upgrade in December 2021. Will this be the last?

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