Ethereum Foundation members are calling for participants to upgrade nodes as the Muir Glacier hard fork looms. This update was particularly controversial, releasing on what some consider to be a “global holiday,” the first day of the new year. Muir Glacier only contains one EIP which postpones the ‘Difficulty Bomb’ which slows down potential hash rates.
The Muir Glacier update marked the first time that an Ethereum Hardfork Coordinator’s e-mail was leaked. James Hancock was informing people they need to upgrade nodes by January 1st, then the e-mail leaked to Twitter. Opponents of Ethereum poked fun at the fact that a ‘Hardfork Coordinator’ exists in a system that is supposed to be decentralized. This wasn’t the first time the role has been mentioned though, as developers were publicly looking for one in March.
Developers want to postpone the ‘Difficulty Bomb’ in order to avoid any complications with the Istanbul update. Some people would like to be the Difficulty Bomb to be removed completely, and have a more permanent solution to the ‘Ice Age,’ but there was an urgency to postpone it at the minimum.
“The timing of when the difficulty bomb begins to kick-in is difficult to estimate. While planning Istanbul, it was first estimated that the bomb would not be noticeable until mid-2020. This implied that it could safely be delayed in the follow-up upgrade to Istanbul. However, those estimates were wrong.” – Ethereum Cat Herders
According to the Ethereum Cat Herders, the Difficulty Bomb wasn’t supposed to be noticeable until mid 2020, but it started to become noticeable in October, and had potential to hit 30+ second block times by January 2020. 30 seconds was the all-time high average block time in 2016.