Over the past few months, the biggest news for Ethereum surrounds the Constantinople Hard Fork. Originally slated for October 2018 and then January 2019 implementation, the upgrade was delayed due to developers drawing attention to an error in the protocol’s code, which would purportedly allow malicious attackers to drain ETH from smart contracts.
What is Constantinople?
According to Cointelegraph.com, “The upcoming Constantinople hard fork includes five different Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) to smooth the transition from PoW to PoS. Once released, they would fundamentally change the Ethereum blockchain via a host of new upgrades, which prevent any
Furthermore, the Constantinople hard fork includes changes to Ethereum’s underlying mining economic policy and the delay of the “Difficulty Bomb”, aimed at making the production of new blocks more complex and unfavourable. This is a set of code programmed to trigger the so-called “Ethereum Ice Age”, the main purpose of which is to make mining unprofitable and promote transition to PoS.
The Ethereum Ice Age is designed to ensure that all participants switch to the new network after a hard fork is implemented. The bomb gradually complicates ETH mining, increasing the mining block time. With the introduction of the Casper update as part of the Serenity milestone, the complexity is supposed to grow higher. Miners will not be able to match the increase in complexity: the purchase of new equipment and its configuration will simply be economically unprofitable. Thus, the network will be left without miners and will “freeze” – the Ice Age will come. The bomb was introduced in September 2015, soon after the launch of the Ethereum network.
The “Difficulty Bomb” delay will be included in Constantinople to maintain the stability of the system, by leaving the network in the same state as before. Reducing the block reward also decreases the likelihood of a miner driven chain split as Ethereum approaches Proof-of-Stake.
Where Are We T
Per a piece from CoinDesk, the project’s developers met again, determining that the hard fork would activate at block number 7,280,000, likely to be processed on February 27th.
But there are a few nuances with this launch. Namely, the corrupted EIP will not be included in the ‘new and improved’ Constantinople. Also, when the upgrade hits, there will be two simultaneous upgrades, rather than one. The first upgrade will activate the five EIPs stipulated, while the second will remove the bugged EIP.
According to CoinDesk, this will ensure “that test networks and private networks that have already implemented the full Constantinople upgrade can easily implement a fix without rolling back any blocks.”
Interestingly, as hinted at in the title of this article, the target date for Constantinople’s activation is the last day that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will make a verdict on the Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal from VanEck, SolidX, and CBOE. This is likely nothing more than an intriguing coincidence, but the fact that two industry events could fall on the same day could be fate.
Will Constantinople’s third launch go right? And will it be accompanied by a positive Bitcoin ETF verdict from regulatory incumbents?
For now, no one knows for sure. But optimists believe the two events can occur successfully, instead of crashing, burning, and plummeting into the proverbial abyss.
Blockchain Upgrade Still Going To Be Bullish
Despite the delay, many have seen Constantinople in Ethereum’s long-term prospects, especially considering the project’s ambition to launch Proof of Stake (PoS), blockchain sharding, among other features via the Serenity upgrade schedule.
For those who missed the memo, Constantinople will activate EIP 145, EIP 1052, and EIP 1014, which are all upgrades that allow for short-term scaling. 145, for example, will reduce the “cost of shifts in smart contracts” by 10x, making certain functions much cheaper for consumers.
Not only will Constantinople improve Ethereum’s fundamentals, but likely the price of Ether too. Alex Kruger, a New York-based crypto researcher, once claimed that the fork is “decidedly bullish” for ETH’s long-term prospects, as the issuance reduction, or so-called “thirdening,” will likely push the cryptocurrency higher due to simple supply and demand economics.