Ethereum system upgrade set for New Year’s Day

Muir Glacier hard fork will address mining issues

January 1st is traditionally a quiet day in the cryptocurrency world, but this year it could prove to be a very important one for Ethereum (ETH), as the coin’s development team has chosen New Year’s Day to undertake significant technological alterations to its platform by initiating the Muir Glacier hard fork.

Hard forks are an upgrade of a network's protocol that requires all nodes or users to adopt the latest version of its software. The Muir Glacier initiative follows the Istanbul hard fork earlier in December, and addresses issues around the "difficulty time bomb" (a process by which mining ETH becomes trickier).

The website Ethernodes, which monitors Ethereum’s performance, believes that the increased difficulty in mining in the last few months has led to a 20 per cent discovery drop of new blocks.

It does appear though that the network is readying for the hard fork with Ethernodes also reporting that 63.2 per cent of nodes are ready for the Muir Glacier changes, with the other 40 per cent probably slowly tweaking their protocols.

Ethereum has already committed to introducing a new method of mining, known as Proof-of-Stake, as part of its Ethereum 2.0 launch, which will be undertaken later in 2020. The Proof-of-Stake chain, which will run in parallel to Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work chain will partition the database into “shards.” Ethereum’s developers are confident that the 2.0 transactions will run significantly faster and it will help the platform overcome some of its current scaling issues.

Writing for Coindesk Ben Edgington, who advises on Ethereum 2.0 for blockchain company ConsenSys, argues “the real proof of our open, organic development approach will come in the first months of 2020. We are on track to go live with Ethereum 2.0’s beacon chain, and the transition from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake will be officially underway, part of the vision of Ethereum since its earliest days.”

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Ethereum, the world’s second most popular cryptocurrency has weathered a tricky 2019 with prices barely up from the $140 (£106, €125) it started the year. It did enjoy a significant spike in June with its price almost doubling, though the last few months have seen those gains dwindle away.

Earlier this week Ethereum co-founder and core developer Jeffrey Wilcke reportedly sold more than $11m to the US cryptocurrency exchange Kraken .

FURTHER READING: Can you make money from Ethereum 2.0?

FURTHER READING: Ethereum co-founder sells $11.5m in crypto to Kraken

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