Ethereum’s Eco-Friendly Revamp ‘Merge’ May Go Live in August, Unless a ‘Difficulty Bomb’ Explodes


Ethereum, the popular and largely commercialised blockchain, is currently undergoing a software revamp after which, its functioning would be more energy efficient and eco-friendly. Preston Van Loon, a developer working on Ether 2.0, has said that if everything goes according to their current plans, the ‘Merge’ would be ready for launch by August this year. The developers are recoding Ethereum’s mining protocol to ‘Proof-of-Stake’ (PoS) from its current ‘Proof-of-Work’ (PoW) model. The Merge upgrade is reportedly expected to reduce Ethereum’s power consumption by 99 percent.

Speaking at a public event, Van Loon said that Merge is almost ready. It is just a few more trials away from entering the industry.

There is however, the fears of a ‘difficulty bomb’ explosion that could further delay the launch of the Merge, that was initially slated to go live in June.

The “difficulty bomb” refers to the program coded into the Ethereum blockchain that intentionally slows down the network, a report by CoinTelegraph explained.

This feature has been designed to encourage Ethereum’s transition to PoS by increasing difficulty levels for miners so that they lose time for mining on the previous PoW chain after using Merge.

If triggered, this difficulty bomb would need to introduce another update to delay its trigger. This will extend the time for Merge’s launch further.

“As far as we know, if everything goes to plan, August — it just makes sense. If we don’t have to move [the difficulty bomb], let’s do it as soon as we can,” Van Loon added.

Back in April, Merge developers successfully stress-tested the network using a so-called mainnet shadow fork.

At the time, another Ethereum developer Marius Van Der Wijden had called this a “huge success”.

Despite the positive test results, the launch of Merge has faced repeated delays.

The developers are running extensive tests on the Ethereum revamp because decentralised finance (DeFi) apps reportedly worth over $100 billion (roughly Rs. 7,61,110 crore) are supported on the blockchain, and cannot be put in jeopardy.

While the PoS mining operations use randomly selected miners to validate transactions, PoW mining needs a competitive validation method to confirm transactions and add new blocks to the blockchain. Hence, the operations of PoW mining is costlier to maintain.

Like Ethereum, Bitcoin also functions on PoW mining model.

Recently, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried dismissed Bitcoin as a viable payment network option, blaming its energy-consuming PoW mining model.

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