Ethereum is currently engulfed by a delayed upgrade designed to ease performance issues which have plagued the network since the Istanbul hard fork.
The Muir Glacier upgrade was supposed to happen yesterday. However, according to Ethereum’s official blog, “the exact date is subject to change due to variable block times and time zones”.
What is the Muir Glacier upgrade and why is it needed?
The upgrade was set to occur on block number 9200000 and is currently underway.
Muir Glacier is a necessary upgrade to improve Etheruem’s performance and delay the difficulty bomb that has been slowing down the network. This is something that developers apparently forgot to do after the Istanbul hard fork.
This latest fork in Ethereum 1.0 has been ‘hard coded’ to ensure that the network maintains an average block time by adjusting the mining difficulty that is required to produce new blocks.
As block times began to increase in October 2019, many users on the Ethereum blockchain suffered noticeable delays. The Muir Glacier upgrade will kick the difficulty bomb can down the road by delaying it for another four million blocks.
That’s around 600 days from now when block times will begin to slow the network down again. Presumably, the Ethereum community is hoping that Ethereum 2.0 will be ready by this point, although being an entirely new blockchain, that is far from certain.
The timing of Muir Glacier is unfortunate
The timing of the latest improvement on the Ethereum network seems to have been unfortunate.
Node operators and developers were advised to prepare for Muir Glacier well before the holiday break by upgrading their nodes and downloading the latest versions.
However, according to ethernodes.org, there are still some 19.2% of clients unprepared for the Muir Glacier fork.
Fortunately for Ethereum, all the major exchanges have come out in support of the latest hard fork. It will not create a new token or affect anyone holding ETH on an exchange or in a wallet. However, as Huobi Global states:
“There may be a delay or suspension of ETH and ERC20 deposits and withdrawals during the upgrade”.
The price of ETH is languishing below $130 today indicating that there is no particular bullish sentiment ahead of the upcoming fork. Until Ethereum can demonstrate any real solid progress on Serenity, the price of ETH is unlikely to react.