There is a chance that the much-anticipated Ethereum (ETH) Merge could happen already this August, according to Ethereum core developer Preston Van Loon. He also suggested that effort is being made to complete The Merge before the next difficulty bomb goes off.
Asked a variation of the ‘when Merge’ question at the Permissionless conference, Van Loon told the panel, which included a researcher at the Ethereum Foundation Justin Drake, that:
“It’s just the last few steps we have to take, and as far as we know, if everything goes according to plan, August – it just makes sense.”
The Merge is Ethereum’s long-awaited upgrade that will see the current Ethereum Mainnet merge with the beacon chain proof-of-stake (PoS) system. Just yesterday, Cryptonews.com reported that the Ropsten public testnet, which allows for blockchain development to be tested before deployment on the mainnet, is estimated to undergo The Merge on June 8. It is the latest in a line of tests done in preparation for the main Ethereum blockchain to switch to the PoS consensus.
According to a tweet by the event co-host, the Bankless podcast, Drake said that the “stars are aligned” for the Merge to happen in August, but also that:
There is a “strong desire to make this happen before difficulty bomb in August.”
The difficulty bomb, also known as the Ice Age, is a feature that slows down the blocks, therefore the entire Ethereum network. While the switch to Ethereum 2.0 has been in the works for a long time, the developers came up with this difficulty bomb as a mechanism that artificially and gradually makes generating new blocks more difficult and mining unprofitable.
The difficulty bomb is meant to deter the miners from staying on the current proof-of-work (PoW) chain following The Merge, as well as to encourage developers to work on the PoS switch.
Some of the earlier estimates for The Merge were May or June this year. Before the previous postponement of the difficulty bomb, Ethereum developer Tim Beiko said: “We think ~4 months is a generous timeframe from having the code done to seeing the merge on mainnet. We think there’s a chance [that the code being done] can [happen] by February (obviously, still a lot of unknowns!), so we decided to set the [difficulty] bomb based on that.”
Beiko added at the time that the bomb can be pushed back again if the developers are not ready for The Merge.
Still, the developers previously decided not to push off the June bomb for now. Beiko told Fortune earlier this month that developers could still delay the bomb in some four weeks’ time if need be, and that the process isn’t difficult – but that, for now, it would “create more work for developers, so given the huge desire from everyone to see the merge happen as soon as possible, if we can save a few weeks by not delaying the bomb, that might be worth it.”
Meanwhile, Christine Kim, a research associate at investment firm Galaxy Digital, said in late April that the developers probably “don’t want to be bombarded with more criticism, hysteria, and just incorrect media saying the merge won’t happen or will happen in December just cuz the bomb got pushed back to then.”
At 8:30 UTC, ETH is trading at USD 2,020. It’s up almost 4% in a day and 3% in a week.