‘Gray Glacier’ Upgrade Goes Live on Ethereum Network

It’s another day, another upgrade for Ethereum as the world’s largest smart contracts platform just rolled out another major update.

The upgrade, dubbed “Gray Glacier,” occurred at block 15,050,000 on June 30 with the sole purpose of making changes to the parameters of the network’s difficulty bomb, which would push it back 700,000 blocks, or about 100 days.

The Gray Glacier upgrade is off the network hard forkmeaning it creates new rules to improve the system and requires the node operators and miners to download the latest version of their Ethereum clients.

“If you are using an Ethereum client that has not been updated to the latest version, […] your client will sync to the pre-fork blockchain once the upgrade takes place,” the Ethereum Foundation said in a blog post earlier this month.

In other words, the non-upgraded clients are locked into an incompatible chain under the old rules, meaning operators cannot send transactions or operate on the post-upgrade Ethereum network.

In addition, not all node operators and miners followed the recommendation, as data from Ethernodes shows that only 65% ​​of customers were fully prepared for the Gray Glacier upgrade.

Erigon, the network’s second-largest customer, was the only one to upgrade all of its 164 customers.

Geth, the network’s most popular client, was only 67% ready, with 448 clients running the legacy software. Nethermind and Besu had 76% and 78% of their customers updated respectively.

What is Ethereum’s difficulty bomb?

The difficulty bomb, which has been part of Ethereum since day one, is a piece of code responsible for increasing the difficulty of mining exponentially Ethereum (ETH), the network’s native cryptocurrency, and discourages miners from continuing their operations as the network transitions from its current proof of work (PoW) algorithm to proof of commitment (PoS) consensus model.

In other words, detonating the difficulty bomb would mean that the actual transition – also known as the fusion– could be just around the corner.

An implementation of The Merge has already gone live on Ethereum’s Ropsten testnet in early June, with Vitalik Buterin and other developers previously said that “if everything goes according to plan”, the transition could happen as early as August of this year.

Reducing the difficulty bomb for another 100 days, however, makes it unlikely that the schedule will be met, with the updated EIP-5133 proposal now pointing to mid-September as a new timetable for the implementation of the mechanism.

Previously, the difficulty bomb mechanism was pushed back in five different network upgrades: Byzantium, Constantinople, Muir GlacierLondonand the most recent arrow glacier upgrade in Dec 2021.

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