Ethereum's POS merger gets pushed back to June 2022, GPU supplies to remain limited
Climatic change is a major concern right now and we are seeing a big shift towards electrical cars and renewable sources of green energy. This is also reflected in the transition from proof-of-work (POW) towards proof-of-stake (POS) for certain cryptocoins. While Bitcoin will remain POW, Ethereum is planning to adopt the POS consensus, but the transition is not going too smoothly. The London hard fork initiated back in August was supposed to begin a gradual rise in mining difficulty that would essentially reduce the control GPU miners have over the network and tangentially ease the pressure on the GPU demand. Unfortunately, the NFT craze prompted a huge boom in energy consumption on the mining side, even though the mining rewards are already declining. On top of that, the “difficulty bomb” that was supposed to occur this December, has been pushed to June 2022 or even beyond.
The Ethereum dev team recently forwarded a new Improvement Proposal (EIP 4345) to delay things even further. Prior to this, developer Tim Beiko was noting that “even though the merge testing is going well, it isn’t going to happen until the difficulty bomb is due to go off again (early December, as per EIP-3554). We are not ~1 month away from having client releases ready for the merge, so we need to push the bomb back again.” There seems to be some opposition coming from the miner community, so the EIP-4345 is granting it more time to prepare. However, one should keep in mind that the time bomb will not immediately impact mining difficulty, as it could take several months for block times to increase significantly. Furthermore, the proposal also notes that the difficulty bomb could be pushed back even further if necessary.
Besides deterring miners to continue using GPUs as primary hardware to produce new blocks and greatly reduce the network energy requirements, the time bomb should also improve security, acting as a “defense against attackers that fork Ethereum.” The problem with the delays is miners will continue to hoard GPUs well into 2022, so gamers might find it hard to secure Nvidia's and AMD's next gen GPUs.
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