The difficulty bomb on Ethereum is intended to make mining difficult and economically impractical, incentivizing the development of Ethereum 2.0. Miners are motivated to switch to the new Proof of Stake consensus mechanism through this feature.
The Arrow Glacier update, which postponed the difficulty bomb, included an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP). EIPs are proposals created and evaluated by the Ethereum community. Arrow Glacier is noteworthy for being the anticipated final extension of the difficulty bomb before the release of Ethereum 2.0.
The Arrow Glacier update is crucial to the Ethereum network, even though it may not be obvious to the average user. Without it, the network could become almost unusable. In this document, we will examine the update's significance for users, stakers, crypto miners, and Ethereum 2.0.
What Is the Ethereum Arrow Glacier Upgrade?
Implemented in block number 13,773,000, the Ethereum Arrow Glacier Upgrade is a straightforward update. It delays the network's difficulty bomb, providing developers with additional time to prepare for Ethereum 2.0.
Arrow Glacier and the prior Muir Glacier update from January 2020 are nearly identical. They both contain only one Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) that postpones the "ice age." The difficulty bomb was also extended in the Constantinople, Byzantium, and London updates.
What Is the Ethereum Difficulty Bomb?
The Ethereum blockchain previously relied on a PoW consensus mechanism. In this model, users had to utilize computing power to validate transactions. This process introduced a cost to creating consensus and securing the network from bad actors.
To gradually increase the cost of mining a block, a difficulty bomb was introduced that made mining more difficult over time. Eventually, the difficulty bomb would "explode," making it prohibitively expensive to validate transactions and create new blocks. The difficulty bomb had two goals:
- To encourage the development of Ethereum 2.0 and the transition to a PoS model.
- To compel miners to migrate to the new PoS blockchain since they would not be able to continue mining Ether (ETH) on the old PoW version of Ethereum. This would prevent a hard fork from creating two conflicting Ethereum networks.
What Is an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP)?
Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) can suggest any changes or enhancements to the Ethereum network. The creation and review of EIPs involve the Ethereum community, a board of editors, and Ethereum developers. To be incorporated into an update, an EIP must pass the approval process, and it outlines the technical specifications for a particular change in a designated format. The Arrow Glacier update has one EIP, EIP-4345, which aims to postpone Ethereum's mining “ice age”.
What Did the Arrow Glacier Update Mean for Users?
The Arrow Glacier update did not bring any major changes for the average user, and block confirmation times remained stable at about 13 seconds for the past year. However, if you were a node operator or miner, you had to upgrade to the latest version of the Ethereum client to ensure support from the community. Otherwise, you would have been on the old Ethereum fork, which was no longer officially maintained.
Arrow Glacier was a noteworthy update, despite its small size. It prevented the network from becoming too expensive to mine and sluggish to operate. The Ethereum community was thrilled with this development since it marked the end of the difficulty bomb's extensions. As a result, Ethereum 2.0 was made possible with the assistance of this update.