Another Ethereum hard fork is imminent but not all clients are ready for it. New Year lethargy has left many still unprepared for Muir Glacier which may affect Ethereum’s performance.

Ethereum Forks Again

At the time of writing the Muir Glacier upgrade is less than two hours away according to the countdown to block 9200000. The upgrade will use the Ethereum Improvement Proposal 2384 to delay the difficulty bomb.

In essence, this mechanism has been hardcoded to maintain an average block time by adjusting the mining difficulty required to produce new blocks. The difficulty bomb incrementally adds to the mechanism every 100000 blocks until it ‘freezes’ in what is known as an Ice Age.

According to the EIP notes the slowing down was already noticeable in October when block times started to increase. Muir Glacier will delay the difficulty bomb for another 4 million blocks or roughly 600 days until around July 2021 which block times will creep up again.
There will be no issuance reduction during this upgrade as there was with Constantinople and the block reward remains at 2 ETH.

Developers and node operators have been advised to upgrade before the New Year break but it appears many of them have yet to do so. According to only 80% of clients are ready and synched on the network.
This means that 624 clients are still not ready for the imminent network upgrade.

The Ethereum community has grown impatient with core developers recently as the delay has been viewed as wider procrastination for ETH 2.0. A discussion on Muir Glacier highlighted some of the discontents the community has with those that make the big decisions.

“This EIP was accepted as final AFTER the Ethereum Foundation endorsed the Muir Glacier hard fork on its blog. The ordering of these two events indicates that EF does not recognize the community input process when it unilaterally implements major breaking changes.”
It had also been suggested that this upgrade would not be the last on ETH 1.0 but was deemed necessary to prevent network performance deterioration. The next upgrade is likely to be Berlin and it already has a list of eligible EIPs.

ETH 2.0 is a completely separate network that is still around two years away in its entirety. Initial phases will start getting rolled out later this year with Beacon Chain being the first.
Ethereum prices are still rock bottom and are likely to remain there until some solid progress on Serenity can be seen.