Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Ethereum Constantinople Hard Fork and What to Expect

The long-awaited Ethereum upgrade cum hard fork has been finally announced, and the due date has been stipulated for Jan 16th.

What to Expect

Prior to the hard fork, the Ethereum management and developing community have repeatedly warned users of the cautious use of the term ‘hard fork’ which is getting a number of Ethereum enthusiasts worked up. The term ‘upgrade’ is being pushed instead, as the imminent hard fork is generally expected to be widely accepted and amicable—well, even the most amicable of divorce can be messy when lawyers are involved; here in the crypto space, the miners have a say—and miners are believed to be prepared for the impendent hard fork.

The last Ethereum hard fork which reduced mining rewards from 5 ETH to 2 ETH, happened with miners and users in its wake as they subsequently took sides, with the minority leading to the Ethereum Classic. Ethereum Classic has not fared well since then, as its miners continue to decrease.

However, no split is expected this time, as Ethereum miners are said to have been prepared are currently expectant of the new upgrade which is set to take place on all nodes of the network.

Significant Upgrades

The Constantinople upgrade is set to make five major changes to the network.

The expected upgrades, dubbed Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) include important EIPs with relatively more potential influence than the other. The new upgrades have been designed to make noticeable improvements in speed, efficiency, cost, functionality, and miner issues.

EIP 145 (Bitwise Shifting Instructions), EIP 1052 (Smart Contract Verification) and EIP 1283 (SSTORE) are part of the upgrade dealing explicitly with speed, energy and cost. EIP 145 is an upgrade in execution shifts in smart contracts which is supposed to be ten times cheaper than the current version, while EIP 1052 would allow smart contracts to pull on one another rather than pulling on the entire code, which is bound to increase speed and reduce energy expended.

The last two changes, EIP 1014 CREATE2 [Scalability] and EIP 1234 (Block Rewards & Difficulty Bomb Delay) have potentially more serious impacts and are the possible major drivers behind a price hike or even a split. EIP 1014 created by Vitalik Buterin himself is set to improve scalability through state channels, while EIP 1234 might just be the bone miners might pick an issue with.

Implementation of EIP 1234 would reduce Ethereum block rewards for miners from 3 ETH to 2 ETH, an upgrade which might seem less attractive to hobbyist miners. The Difficulty Bomb Delay is also supposed to delay the ‘Ice age’ in the Ethereum space where miners would no longer be needed.

Miners are relatively going to be the most affected by the hard fork; it remains to be seen how the upgrade is going to be received and most importantly what effect it is set to have on the cryptocurrency market.

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