Why the Ethereum Update is Delayed (Yet Again)

Now known as "The Merge", the Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH) upgrade will transition the blockchain from a Proof of Work consensus mechanism to the more efficient and less energy intensive Proof of Stake method.

In addition, there will be a handful of other upgrades that will help Ethereum tackle the slower speeds and high fees that have plagued the blockchain when traffic is high. But in order for this merge to take place, developers must implement smaller steps before completely migrating to Proof of Stake. One of those steps is known as the difficulty bomb.

What is the difficulty bomb

The difficulty bomb is a piece of code added into Ethereum's code back in 2015 to help this transition. One of the worries from the Ethereum community is that miners will not be incentivized to move to Proof of Stake. To combat this, developers created the difficulty bomb.

On a Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism miners must solve complex math problems to earn a reward. The difficulty bomb will aim to make this math problem exponentially more difficult to solve. Eventually the math problems will become impossible to solve and miners will not be able to earn rewards.

The Ethereum community hopes that this will force miners to accept The Merge and switch to a Proof of Stake method.

Developers have strategically planned to release the difficulty bomb before The Merge so that miners can slowly migrate. The Merge is dependent upon the difficulty bomb being released.

Not again

Unfortunately, it was recently released that the difficulty bomb has been delayed. This is now the fifth time this has been delayed.

Ethereum has seen explosive growth in the last few years as the result of it supporting most of the DeFi economy. For Ethereum to continue to support a growing number of users, this upgrade is badly needed. Without it, Ethereum will continue to struggle with high fees and slower speeds.

For investors, these continual delays are more than discouraging. But they should not be overly scrutinized. This process of upgrading Ethereum is a complex one.

As the second most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap, Ethereum has built a reputation for being one of the most innovative blockchains. It supports a broad range of the DeFi sector like DEX's, NFT's, lending and borrowing platforms, and much more.

The ecosystem is expansive. Trying to get an upgrade of this magnitude rolled out is a difficult task. The road map is there, but implementation must happen.

Until The Merge is complete though there should be some caution around Ethereum. The Merge is the next step in Ethereum's progression to support more and more use cases as demand grows. Without it, Ethereum will likely lose market share to other blockchains.

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RJ Fulton has positions in Ethereum. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Ethereum. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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