Ethereum introduced the concept of the difficulty bomb mid-2015. Unlike Bitcoin halvings; where the block time is fixed at 10 minutes and the reward is cut in half every 4 years, Ethereum’s difficulty bomb increases the time it takes to mine a block and hence overtime can exponentially increase transaction times and fees. In other words, it can bring the entire network to a halt. This was created to force the network to switch to a Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm.
Since 2015, these difficulty bombs have been delayed three times, until developers find a long-term solution to the problem. ETH 2.0, the Proof-of-Stake alternative, is still facing engineering problems, hence a solution for the migration of the chains have not been fully optimised yet.
The first delay occurred in 2018 with the Byzantium hard fork, followed by the Constantinople one in 2019 and now the third successful hard fork called Muir Glacier.
The latest fork will give Ethereum developers an extra 4 million blocks, or approximately 20 months to find a solution and begin the ETH 2.0 upgrade which is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2020.
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