Ethereum has postponed the launch of its difficulty bomb update, which is intended to make ETH mining more expensive and less profitable.
Ethereum’s difficulty bomb update has been postponed
The difficulty bomb would make it more difficult to mine blocks with Proof-of-Work, making it so expensive and inefficient that it would potentially become unprofitable.
It would serve to incentivize the transition to Proof-of-Stake, so as to forcibly convince miners to stop mining ETH with PoW.
In fact, Ethereum’s current PoW-based blockchain will not be completely decommissioned once it switches to PoS, but will become one of the subchains of the new PoS-based Beacon Chain.
The hope though, is that all users will stop using it when the Merge takes place and the new blockchain becomes fully operational.
However, since there is no way to prevent it from being used, it would be useful to impose a change to the current Ethereum protocol that would effectively make miners lose out should they decide to keep it alive.
This is why the difficulty bomb was introduced, which would make ETH mining with PoW so difficult that it would no longer be profitable.
The reasons for the postponement
The thing is that the difficulty bomb would also make the current network much slower, which is why on Friday, the main developers of Ethereum decided not to consider this measure, at least until the time of the Merge.
In this way, the current PoW-based blockchain will continue to function as it does now until the final official launch of the new PoS-based Beacon Chain.
However, this decision generates the risk that even after the Merge there will be some miners who will continue to mine ETH with PoW in order to collect the reward.
It is not yet clear how this problem will be solved, but the hypothesis circulating is that the difficulty bomb will be applied at the same time as or shortly after the Merge. In this way it would not come into operation before the final and official launch of the new PoS-based blockchain, but as soon as this happens it could start to discourage the continuation of mining on the old chain.
In other words, at this moment there is no precise date for either the Merge or the difficulty bomb.
It is worth bearing in mind that the difficulty bomb would bring the average block-time from the current 12 or 13 seconds to 21 or 25 seconds, with the hypothesis that it could even be increased to 30 seconds in order to discourage mining.
This would halve the speed of transaction execution, if not reduce it by two-thirds, and would therefore be difficult to reconcile with the full usability of the Ethereum network in the absence of PoS.
According to Tim Beiko, who leads the meetings of the All Core Devs of the Ethereum Foundation, it would be better to postpone the discussion on the difficulty bomb to the meeting of 13 May or even 27 May, so that in the meantime they can continue to carry out all the tests to see how it could work.
Finally, it is worth remembering that the transition from PoW to PoS is very delicate and very critical, which is why the devs are proceeding with great caution.