Ethereum has four milestone phases in its development post-release; Frontier, Homestead, Metropolis, and Serenity. Ethereum is currently in phase three – Metropolis version Byzantium. However, Ethereum has had a difficulty bomb – a protocol that makes mining the cryptocurrency more difficult – programmed into its Blockchain since the Frontier phase.
Why program a difficulty bomb?
Ethereum’s final milestone phase is Serenity. A major change that comes with Serenity is that Ethereum’s Blockchain consensus algorithm will change from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS). Before the Ethereum network is able to make the shift from PoW to PoS, the network has to shift miners off of the PoW Blockchain, onto the PoS Blockchain.
For the Ethereum network to continue functioning with full support, miners will have to support the PoS Ethereum Blockchain and not the chain that will proceed with a PoW protocol. This is a bit confusing – and that is exactly why developers programmed a difficulty bomb into Ethereum’s Blockchain, to eliminate any confusion.