Ethereum Accepts EIP-1234 Proposal; Announces a Twelve-Month Delay
On August 31, 2018, the Ethereum team announced the delay of Casper’s development for 12 months to reduce block rewards and maintain stability.
There is much to be said about the development of Ethereum, and it’s a constant struggle to reach consensus when it comes to deciding the way progress is heading. In their last, All Core Devs Meeting, the development of Casper was chosen as a decisive step forward out from the Proof-of-Work (PoW) system on to Proof-of-Stake (PoS). But now, it seems that these plans have been delayed.
According to the draft, the block times are increasing as the difficulty bomb is slowly accelerating. The difficulty bomb, also known as the “ice age,” was the method used to increase the block times and adjust the coin distribution to make a safe way into a PoS mechanism.
This new EIP proposes the contrary – to delay the difficulty bomb for around a year while reducing the block rewards with the Constantinople fork, the second phase of the Metropolis fork.
The team decided that the Ethash PoW should be feasible for miners and allow sealing new blocks every 15 seconds on average for the next year. With the delay of the ice age, the miner rewards will not increase, and instead, they will be adjusted.
According to the draft drawn from All Core Devs Meeting, to maintain stability of the system, a block reward reduction that offsets the ice age delay would leave the system in the same general state as before. This approach will also drastically reduce the reward and the chances a new split from happening as Ethereum moves over to PoS.
EIP-1234: Backwards Compatibility
This EIP is not forward compatible and introduces backward incompatibilities in the difficulty calculation, as well as the block, uncle, and nephew reward structure. Therefore, it should be included in a scheduled hardfork at a specific block number. It’s suggested to include this EIP in the second Metropolis hardfork so that the switch to PoS can happen.
The EIP proposes that starting with “CNSTNTNPL_FORK_BLKNUM” the client will use a fake block number as the base to calculate the difficulty while the difficulty bomb is adjusting around six million blocks later than previously specified with the Homestead fork.
Block rewards will also be adjusted to a base of two ETH with uncle and nephew rewards will be adjusted accordingly.
The EIP will delay the difficulty bomb by 42 million seconds which will make about 1.4 years so that the chain would be back at 30 second block times in summer 2020.
An alternate proposal was also presented, which would add special rules to the difficulty calculation to effectively pause the difficulty between different blocks. This proposal would eventually lead to similar results but less time of delay to the switch.
This last proposal would delay the ice age by 29 million seconds, which would be approximately 12 months, making the chain go back to 30 second block times around the same time in 2019.