Ethereum Classic Hard Forks Over 'Difficulty Bomb'

In an attempt to eliminate the so-called Difficulty Bomb problem, the Ethereum Classic (ETC) blockchain network has gone for the hard fork once again. The upgrade was planned to decrease the time it takes to create a block on the Ethereum Classic blockchain.

Ethereum Classic was born as a hard fork of the original ethereum  codebase that led to the creation of two parallel co-existing blockchain networks called ethereum and Ethereum Classic. Owing to the intrinsic nature of the original ethereum  blockchain prior to the split, the difficulty of mining was set to increase over time and Ethereum Classic continued the legacy feature. This increasing difficulty level led to more time to mine a block on the blockchain, which was ultimately called the “Difficulty Bomb.” At present, the block mining time for ETC blockchain is around 26 seconds, and the hard fork exercise is expected to take it down to around 14 seconds. (See also: An Introduction to Ethereum Classic.)

A Hard Fork to Reduce Block Mining Time

The exercise was well planned and executed in a phased manner after lengthy periods of extensive deliberations among community participants. The discussions around tackling the Difficulty Bomb started in 2016. It was followed by a fork, called "Die Hard," in January 2017 which “froze” the Difficulty Bomb and reduced block time.

However, this hard fork has not resulted in any airdrop offering freebies to the cryptocurrency's participants, nor has it led to the creation of any new crypto coins. The forking exercise was performed solely with an aim to reduce the block mining time.

According the available network data, the fork was performed at block 5,900,000 and literally went unnoticed for bulk of network participants. It requires the participating nodes to upgrade to the latest software, which was released three months ago. Reports suggest that most of the involved participants and most exchange nodes and mining pools have upgraded to the required software prior to the fork. No bugs or any other operational issues have been reported due to the fork and upgrade.

The change has helped Ethereum Classic to distinguish itself from the other ethereum  blockchains. The overall ethereum community continues to advocate for the transition to the proof of stake (POS) consensus system, the Ethereum Classic community continues to hang on to the proof of work (POW) consensus mechanism. The proponents of POW opine that though it is resource- and power-intensive algorithm, it has its merits in achieving the best possible decentralization and requires real commitment from participants to invest in mining hardware and, therefore, in the blockchain. (See also: Ethereum to Adopt Proof-of-Stake.)

"There's a lot of new algorithms being proposed like proof-of-stake, delegated proof-of-stake and byzantine fault tolerance, and within our community we're not convinced that these newer versions of consensus are any more decentralized and we're somewhat afraid that they may be more centralized than say proof-of-work," said Anthony Lusardi, developer and director of ETC Cooperative, a community development and marketing body for the protocol, according to CoinDesk.

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