According to Etherscan, on Feb. 10, 13,370 new ETH have been created, down from over 20 thousand in December 2018 and an all-time-high of over 39 thousand reported on July 30, 2015. The recent sharp decrease in the quantity of newly mined ETH was evidently caused by a sudden increase in Ethereum mining difficulty, which Etherscan data revealed on Feb. 10.
As CryptoNewspeople reported in September last year, Ethereum’s core developers decided on their regular meeting on August 31, 2018 to delay the so-called “difficulty bomb,” by agreeing to include the code for such a change into the upcoming Constantinople hard fork.
The difficulty bomb, also known as Ethereum’s “ice age,” is a mechanism implemented on the Ethereum chain which makes Proof of Work (PoW) mining ETH progressively harder (increasing the difficulty).
The reason for the implementation of this feature is to prevent miners from continuing their activity on the chain after Ethereum’s switch to a Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. Still, PoS implementation has been delayed multiple times, which is why Ethereum developers have delayed the difficulty bomb though updates as they plan to do with the Constantinople hard fork.
Moreover, delaying the ice age also lowers mining difficulty. To compensate for the easier mining process, Constantinople will also feature the so-called “thirdening”: a reduction of the reward for every miner block from 3 to 2 ETH.
Such an update would raise the quantity of daily minted ETH again, by making the creation of new blocks easier. This upgrade is currently scheduled to happen at block 7,080,000, which forecasted to be mined on Feb. 27, according to a Consensys blog post.
Last week, the Ethereum Foundation refuted alleged plans to spend a prospective $15 million on the development of Verifiable Delay Functions (VDFs) for use in its transition to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) network.