Less than a week left before the next major update of Ethereum, the second largest blockchain in the world.
Byzantium is one of two parts of the massive Metropolis update and will be activated at block 4,370,000, approximately 4 days from now at the current block release rate, via a hard fork. The generally accepted (albeit still controversial) blockchain upgrade strategy requires the involvement of all key players in the Ethereum ecosystem.
Byzantium was included in the Ethereum roadmap in 2015, which means there shouldn’t be any surprises. At its core, Byzantium is a conservative update that will integrate nine key Ethereum improvement protocols (EIPs) into the cryptocurrency blockchain. These changes are intended to improve transaction processing speed, smart contract security, and possibly anonymity..
However, before users can enjoy all the benefits of the new update, the final stages of preparation must be completed..
Since the nodes of the network will be directly involved in the update, in the coming days a lot of attention will be paid to updating their software. In other words, startups that develop clients for Ethereum nodes need to make sure their software includes EIPs running the Byzantium hard fork. Although the rules are common for all clients, the clients themselves can be written in different programming languages and supported by different development teams. Diversity of clients is considered one of the advantages of Ethereum, as this approach allows for the implementation of separate developments while adhering to a single and immutable protocol..
For the update to take place in the prescribed manner, all Ethereum clients must run it on block 4.370.000. This block number must be registered in the EIPs integrated into clients. If some nodes are not updated, they will remain in the old network.
At the time of publication, most of the client software developers have already submitted the required updates. The most popular Go client Ethereum (Geth) (69% of nodes) announced a new version with Byzantium support last week. However, at the moment only half of the nodes have updated their software. Parity’s second most popular client has also recently released an update. The remaining clients account for a relatively small number of nodes, and most of them have also been updated to the current version.
Those who follow the development of Ethereum know that along with the new update, the consensus mechanism will change from proof-of-work to more experimental, but at the same time, according to the developers themselves, more advanced proof-of-stake. However, this change will not occur in Byzantium, although certain updates have been introduced to its code that will simplify the transition process..
Probably the most significant of these updates is the reduction in mining difficulty. This means transactions will be processed faster and miners will receive lower rewards. The miner reward will drop from 5 ETH to 3 ETH, which is approximately $ 611 at the current exchange rate. Miners also use software that they have to update to migrate to Byzantium.
Most of the ecosystem members support this update, but there are some miners who are not satisfied with the new mechanism for calculating rewards and difficulty. They claim to have enough computing power to compete with miners at higher difficulty levels and threaten to continue mining blocks on the old blockchain. In any case, there are few such miners, which means that they will not be able to have a negative impact on the further performance of the network..
As a reminder, as a result of the controversial hard fork of The DAO, some miners and users refused to move to the new network, resulting in a new cryptocurrency Ethereum Classic, whose token is now worth $ 11.50. The Byzantium hard fork is also controversial in a way. While the protest movements do not seem to have garnered any significant support, it must be admitted that they exist. For example, this is Etherite, which wants to create its own version of Byzantium without reducing the miner reward. If they gain in popularity, then new blockchains may emerge, in which all ETH token holders will receive a proportional amount of new tokens, as is the case with Bitcoin Cash, and exchanges will have to decide whether they are ready to support new cryptocurrencies and include them in the listing..
Applications on the Ethereum blockchain do not require serious intervention. Mist Decentralized Application Browser is automatically updated with the launch of Byzantium. The same will happen with other decentralized applications..
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