Get ready for drastic change. Ethereum’s hard fork is set to go public in less than a day.
Ethereum is scheduled to hard fork at block 4,370,000. The network as a whole is less than 200 blocks away at the time of this writing. Tomorow’s hard fork, Byzantium, is part of a bigger picture called Metropolis.
This transition is nothing new in the Ethereum world. The currency has seen four hard forks since the unveiling if the coin back in July 2015. Hard forks are complicated. The entire network must be on board with the change. If there are split opinions, people will not use the new fork and two coins will emerge instead of omitting one like planned. This is why Ethereum Classic is a thing.
Byzantium has been planned in Ethereum’s roadmap since 2015. The network saw this coming, it is unlikely any major problems will arise. In summary, the changes in this fork will make the coin and platform run lighter and faster, improve transaction speed, further secure the coin, and add privacy. Ethereum has struggled to find a way to keep wallets anonymous. More about that below.
Most details and updates in the hard fork will not be so easy to spot to a non-developer. However, the steps taken in this hard fork are very beneficial to Ethereum’s network. “Ethereum isn’t safe or scalable. It is immature experimental tech,” Ethereum developer Vlad Zamfir tweeted back in March. Metropolis hopes to fix this for the long game.
When Byzantium rolls out at block 4,370,000, nine Ethereum improvement protocols (EIPs) will roll out into the network. All this means is nine code patches will be put in place. These changes include, “fixing the problem of difficulty adjustments, ‘returndata’ operations, ‘static call’ operations, new precompiles, a difficulty delay feature and embedding transaction return data in receipts,” (source).
From a miner’s perspective, the hard fork will lessen Ethereum’s block reward, making the mining process faster and cheaper. Ethereum’s difficulty bomb has backfired. The original plan was to implement this and make mining blocks harder over time. This has led to higher confirmation times across the Ethereum network. Ethereum’s goal is to have ten second confirmation times. Before the fork, they are sitting at around twenty-five seconds.
Ethereum has struggled to keep transactions anonymous and private. This is no longer the case. Byzantium will implement something called zk-snarks. These are a certain cryptographic procedure that makes all transactions 100% anonymous. This idea was sparked by z-cash.
There is no set date for the second phase of Metropolis (Constantinople), but it is expected to be released in 2018. What do you think will happen when the hard fork officially happens? Share your thoughts!