Ethereum’s total supply has close to doubled since 2016, with it now at above 107 million eth, up from ◊72 million in 2016.
The current supply (pictured above) is about ◊10 million more than Vitalik Buterin, ethereum’s co-founder, estimated would be reached in 2025.
Even for the yer 5000, Buterin said in 2017 that ethereum’s supply would reach only ◊103,862,556.
That’s missing the mark by quite a bit, with Buterin back then stating “in the foreseeable future, the supply will not go far above 100 million.”
This significant difference between projected and actual supply may be because Buterin said “any delay to the ice age bomb should also respect this general ETH supply growth curve.”
That has not been the case, with issuance projections missed by $1.5 billion worth of eth as it was precisely one year ago.
That’s because while the difficulty bomb has been delayed twice, its trajectory regarding issuance has not quite followed the same level as it would have done had there not been a delay.
Last time issuance was decreased at the beginning of this year, it was dropped from 3eth to ◊2, instead of one.
The difficulty bomb is now to kick again perhaps around March, with it unclear whether there are any plans to delay it.
If it is not delayed, then mining eth would be more difficult as difficulty would gradually increase. Meaning less blocks can be found.
It would take about four months for block times to reach around 30 seconds from the usual 15 seconds once difficulty kicks in.
Then from that, it would take about a year for block times to near around two minutes, with it slowly increasing around every two weeks.
So if the difficulty bomb kicks in around March 2020, then by autumn eth would be on 30 second blocks, which is generally still comfortable.
It would then continue to increase, standing at perhaps 1 minute around spring 2021.
That’s of course when sharding and the full ethereum 2.0 is estimated to launch in the brand new blockchain.
So perhaps there isn’t a need to delay the difficulty bomb this time as there will be the new blockchain, with the difficulty bomb acting as some sort of incentive to move to there.
The timeline is perhaps a bit tight, but 1 minute blocks are fine and even 2 minute blocks are manageable as you just pay a higher fee and you don’t use the network unless you have to. You use instead the new blockchain which might have 1,000x capacity.
It is of course precisely so as to incentivize such move to the Proof of Stake (PoS) and the sharding system that the difficulty bomb was incorporated.
It would also act as some sort of incentive for developers to focus their minds a bit more and actually ship code this time.
So it might not be necessary to delay the difficulty bomb, but if it is, another circa 20 million eth will be added to the supply until sharding launches in 2021, worth about $4 billion at current prices.