Ethereum Gray Glacier Upgrade Goes Live, Delays Difficulty Bomb to September 2022

The Gray Glacier upgrade went live on the Ethereum network at block 15,050,000 on June 30th. This effectively pushed back the difficulty bomb to mid-September this year.

Jul 5, 2022
by Akira Ming
Ethereum Gray Glacier Upgrade Goes Live, Delays Difficulty Bomb to September 2022
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What is the Gray Glacier upgrade on the Ethereum network? 

On June 30th, Ethereum went through another major update called Gray Glacier upgrade at block 15,050,000. In essence, the upgrade only changed the parameters of the difficulty bomb, pushing it back by 700,000 blocks or around 100 days to mid-September 2022. 

To those who don't know, the difficulty bomb is a special code that has been part of the Ethereum protocol since 2015. When executed, mining activity will become significantly harder to perform on the existing blockchain. So, delaying the difficulty bomb means delaying Ethereum's merge to the PoS (proof-of-stake) model. 

Nonetheless, the Gray Glacier upgrade is a network hard fork. So, node operators and miners need to download the latest version of their Ethereum clients. According to the Ethereum Foundation, non-upgraded clients will sync to the pre-fork blockchain once the upgrade occurs. If that happens, they will get stuck on an incompatible chain and won't be able to send Ether or operate on the post-upgrade Ethereum network. That's kind of a big deal, don't you think? 

As of writing, more than 96% of the clients are prepared for the upgrade as shown above. The largest client on the network, Geth is 98% ready, while Erigon and Nethermind had all of their clients updated. 

To be sure, the difficulty bomb was pushed back in several network upgrades in the past. This happened back in the Byzantium, Constantinople, Muir Glacier, London, and Arrow Glacier upgrades. While the Foundation usually uses Ethereum conference city names for execution layer network upgrades, upgrades that only delay the difficulty bomb will use glacier names instead.

In short, the Gray Glacier upgrade with a delay in difficulty bomb indicates that The Merge will take longer than expected. Although Ethereum's core developers debated the need for the delay at a June 10th meeting, many favored the delay so they will have more time to get the codes ready. 

As the biggest smart contracts platform in the world, Ethereum is home to many amazing GameFi projects such as Axie Infinity, The Sandbox, and more. Feel free to check out the full list here

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