Go Ethereum, one of the three original implementations of the Ethereum protocol, has announced that the latest version of the Geth standalone client is now available. Geth v1.10.19, also known as Camaron, is a feature release that contains a definition for the Gray Glacier fork.
What is a Difficulty Bomb?
For the uninitiated, a difficulty bomb is a sudden and intentional increase in mining difficulty slated to occur when the new version of the Ethereum blockchain (ETH 2.0) comes into effect.
The Gray Glacier fork is a difficulty bomb postponement expected to go live on the Ethereum Mainnet by the end of this month.
Ethereum uses a proof-of-work mechanism to verify transactions before they are recorded on the blockchain. But this system uses a lot of energy. It is thought that Ethereum mining uses about as much electricity as Finland and produces nearly as much carbon dioxide as Switzerland each year, therefore, Ethereum price volatility is relatively unstable.
Through a new consensus mechanism called “proof-of-stake,” ETH 2.0 is expected to cut Ethereum’s energy use and carbon footprint considerably.
Ethereum’s difficulty bomb is meant to deter miners who may still want to use the proof-of-work mechanism even after ETH 2.0 goes live. It will increase the time it takes to mine new blocks, encouraging miners to move to the less energy-intensive proof-of-stake mechanism.
The difficulty bomb will also discourage blockchain forks and force node upgrades while limiting the ability to centralize currency creation and ownership.
The impracticality of Moving to ETH 2.0 Forces Developers to Include Difficulty Bomb Postponement in Updates
However, migrating to ETH 2.0 under the proof-of-stake mechanism has proven to be a daunting task for Ethereum developers. It is felt that releasing the difficulty bomb before upgrading to the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism would be counterproductive as it would drastically slow down transaction verification on the Ethereum blockchain and possibly reduce the value of Ether (ETH).
For the above reasons, every feature update of the Ethereum ecosystem, including protocols like Geth, always contains a difficulty bomb postponement.
In the latest version of Geth, Gray Glacier is expected to delay the difficulty bomb by an additional 700,000 blocks, which should last until the middle of September 2022.
Users of Go Ethereum have been told to switch to the new version before the Gray Glacier hard fork starts at block number 15050000.
The developers also noted that specific changes found in v1.10.19 might cause incompatibility issues. For instance, it is anticipated that Geth will refuse to start if legacy receipts remain in the application’s database.
Geth’s latest release is part of the interconnected protocol upgrades meant to make the Ethereum network more scalable, secure, and sustainable.