ETH’s Muir Glacier Hard Fork: Everything You Need to Know

Ethereum’s upcoming network update & what it brings?

The 9th Ethereum hard fork is predicted to take place on 2 January 2020. The exact date is subject to change owing to varying block times and time zones. For anyone unfamiliar with the term hard fork, think of the operation as a “network upgrade.”  

Muir Glacier is one of the many hard forks of Ethereum 1.x that will take place preceding Serenity (ETH 2.0), Ethereum’s transition from its present proof of work consensus system to proof of stake consensus. The current fixed block number for the migration is at Block No.: 9, 200,000.

What is Muir Glacier?

The Muir Glacier fork is a proposal for deferring the Ethereum blockchain’s network feature “Ice Age.” Unless the “Ice Age” is routinely pushed back a hard fork, the Ethereum blocks will take longer to be mined through Proof of Work”. This functionality was integrated into the protocol to encourage developers to consistently update the network. The ice age began to take place much earlier than expected, prompting the need for another fork fairly close to the previous fork.

Why have a separate upgrade, and why so soon after the last one?

It is difficult to estimate when the difficulty bomb begins to kick-in. during the preparation for Istanbul, the bomb was first predicted to only be visible sometime in mid-2020. This indicated that the follow-up upgrade to Istanbul could safely be delayed. However, those estimates were, inaccurate.

On 5 October 2019, at Block 8600,000, the difficulty bomb started to become noticeable again. The average period has increased and is now about 14.3 seconds after block 8,900,000.

According to EIP 2384, “the average block time will start to accelerate exponentially every 100,000 blocks. Estimating the added impact from the difficulty bomb on block times shows that we will see 20s block times near the end of December 2019 and 30s+ block times starting February 2020. This will start making the chain bloated and more costly to use.”

In order to avoid a delay with the Istanbul upgrade, it has been decided to address the Difficulty Bomb aka Muir Glacier upgrade as a separate one, that only delays Ice Age.

For Ethereum Users-What do I need to do?

If you hold or use ether with any of the following services, then there’s nothing you need to do:

Hold or transact ETH through a mobile wallet e.g. Coinbase Wallet

Hold ETH on Bybit or any other exchange 

Utilize a hardware wallet e.g. Ledger

NOTE: Bybit will suspend all ETH and USDT-ERC20 token deposits and withdrawals before the upgrade on 2 January 2020. 

For more information on the ETH Hard Fork, please check out our previous article here.