Constantinople, the next system update of ethereum, will soon arrive at a node near you.
Finalized on August 31, Constantinople includes five different proposals for ethereal improvement (EIP). Once released on ethereum, the proposals will permanently modify the blockchain with a series of new incompatible updates backwards.
This means that the nodes – the network of computers running the ethereum software – need to be updated together with the whole system or continue to function as a separate blockchain entity.
More formally known as "hard fork", system-level updates have instigated a good deal of drama in the past. In particular, in the event that some users do not agree with the change, this could result in the simultaneous execution of two different versions of the blockchain itself.
However dramatic these things may be (having previously led to a competing cryptocurrency called ethereum classic), most updates to Constantinople will not be visible to average users. In fact, described by independent developer Lane Rettig, the next ethereum hard fork will not present "big changes" for end users at all.
Mainly characterized as a "maintenance and optimization upgrade" by Rettig, Constantinople presents small, yet technical and heterogeneous improvements in network efficiency and pricing structure, as well as upgrades that open the way to the anticipated climbing schedule. of ethereum.
In addition, the difficult fork includes changes to the underlying economic policy of ethereum and the delay of the bombing difficulty, a piece of code programmed to activate what is known as the eternal "ice age" in which the new creation of blocks on the network eventually slows down completely.
As explained by CoinDesk, economic change has been the cause of contention, with conflicting views expressed by ethereum stakeholders in the months prior to the update.
At the time of the press, anxiety continues to produce miners in the networks that are sold with an imminent pay cut after Constantinople. However, by striking a balance between all stakeholder concerns, developers are confident that the upgrade will be widely welcomed.
While a formal block number still needs to be finalized, developers and key customers are implementing, revising and testing Constantinople code.
As an ethereum trader Eric Conner told CoinDesk:
"Complex coding and testing takes time, and ethereum is alive, so it's essential to make sure there are no changes in progress."
The new ethereum
The five EIPs to be published in Constantinople are:
- EIP 145 : a technical update written by two ethereum developers, Alex Beregszaszi and Pawel Bylica, EIP 145 describes a more efficient processing of information on ethereum known as bitwise shifting.
- EIP 1052 : Created by principal developer Nick Johnson and Bylica, EIP 1052 provides a means to optimize large-scale code execution on ethereum.
- EIP 1283 : Based on EIP 1 087, which was written by Johnson, this proposal benefits principally to developers of smart contracts by introducing a fairer pricing method for changes made to the storage of data.
- EIP 1014 : Created by the founder of the same ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, The purpose of this update is to better facilitate a certain type of scaling solution based on status channels and "off-line" transactions.
- EIP 1234 : Promoted by Afri Schoedon, release manager for the main Parity etneo customer, this update is the most controversial of the lot, reducing the issue of mining premiums from 3 ETH to 2 ETH and delaying the difficulty bomb for a period of 12 months.
Overall, the changes include: code optimizations to improve processing times for developers; fairer pricing structures for changes to the intelligent storage of contract data; a code change that makes scaling solutions through the status channels easier to verify on ethereum; and changes the economic policy of ethereum.
Given that these code changes will probably shape the progress of the second most popular blockchain in the years to come, it is worth giving a more in-depth look at Constantinople.
To get started, both EIP 145 and 1052 aim to improve network efficiency by making changes to the underlying virtual machine of ethereum: the EVM.
Powered by software in the heart of ethereum, the EVM processes smart contracts in a series of ones and zeros called bytecode.
Trying to maintain the longevity of ethereum and optimize performance to best meet the needs of users, both EIP 145 and EIP 1052 seek to optimize developer experience specifically for developers of smart contracts.
EIP 145 introduces "native bitwise shifting" "functionality that is able to perform bytecode without relying on arithmetic operations such as multiplication and division, which means that the intelligent contracts underlying decentralized applications such as CryptoKitties will be processed more quickly from the EVM
Moreover, when intelligent contracts on ethereum are executed and required, EIP 1052 introduces an update by which only the essential data of the contract code is checked rather than the whole of the code itself.
That is to say, rather than verifying the complete contract, EIP 1052 thus makes a line of compressed code, or a "hash" can be verified, saving calculation time and costs – especially for long intelligent contracts executed on thousands of lines of code.
Further EIPs concern the way in smart contracts are stored on ethereum, like EIP 1283, which reduces the amount needed by developers when creating smart contracts.
At present, without EIP 1283, some upgrades of the smart contract code cost a significant amount of gas, the unit of calculation of the energy needed to perform operations on the ethereum platform.
EIP 1283 implements a better cost analysis for contracts, breaking down what changes in the contract were written in the short-term memory of ethereum, called memory, rather than the blockchain itself.
If none or a few of those updates end up on the blockchain, it reduces the overall cost to developers. As Johnson, the author of the original proposal concept behind EIP 1283 told CoinDesk:
"In some cases in the past, we were charging the gas for things that did not actually happen or actually cost real resources and now we are trying to fix things so as to load only the gas that aligns with the work we must actually do. "
In the future, Johnson added that the developers are trying to implement what are known as rental fees. .
As explained by CoinDesk, the idea is to charge a commission for users who store data permanently stored on the blockchain. Johnson said this would be an effective way to discourage "the use of storage for things you do not need."
In addition to a renewed gas tariff structure for developers of smart contracts, EIP 1014 helps to progress and experimental scaling solution called status channels.
Actively being developed as part of the effort to scale ethereum for larger transaction volumes, these channels minimize the amount of operations that need to occur on the blockchain itself, freeing up resources and network space.
Created by the founder of ethereum Vitalik Buterin, EIP 1014 is described on GitHub by the developer of the state channel Liam Horne as "a significant increase in performance in the state channels".
Others on the same forum echoed the sentiment, urging its inclusion in Constantinople and the affirmation that EIP 1014 would better facilitate "off-the-shelf" transactions.
Finally, there is EIP 1234, the latest addition to the four other proposals that will be published in Constantinople concerning the incremental increase in the difficulty of mining extraction known as a bomb of difficulty.
Initially intended to encourage the transition to a more environmentally friendly and evidence-based consensus system called Casper, the switch is still very far. As such, we must take steps to delay the bomb – and decrease the emission of ether next to it
In simple terms, given the removal of the bomb of difficulty, the blocks will be faster for my after Constantinople. This means that measures must also be taken to reduce the reward per block – and EIP 1234 reduces them from 3 ETH to 2 ETH per block.
Because ethereum does not have a formal monetary policy – currently maintaining an inflation pattern without limits – according to a trader named Eric Conner, reducing the reward in EIP 1234 can be thought of as a "breakpoint" that is targeted at effectively limit a "supply flow".
Schoedon, author of EIP 1234, described as "the best proposal to stabilize the issue and simultaneously delay the bomb" in an e-mail to CoinDesk.
Some members of the mining community ethereum opposed the decision to reduce mining premiums, supporting thinner profit margins and the potential of mining operations to become increasingly centralized in the hands of a few.
Concerns come at a time when ASICs – a type of highly competitive mining hardware that removes hobbyists from the mining industry – are becoming more and more
In sum, all five EIPs have an impact on ethereum which touch upon a series of even wider objectives and initiatives to be developed on the decentralized platform even after the liberation of Constantinople.  At present, each EIP will continue to be tested, implemented and peer-reviewed in the coming weeks, although the process is not a linear progression at all.
As stated by Nick Johnson, chief developer of ethereum, technically "anyone can contribute proof" to a global test suite that is subsequently executed against all client implementations. However, it is not that ethereum customers have to wait for these tests to be finalized before going ahead with their own code implementations
Schoedon, who boasts Parity as "probably one of the fastest teams implementing changes for Constantinople" stressed last Saturday in an e-mail to CoinDesk who were the first customer, after having implemented all five EIPs, to be "feature-complete" for Constantinople, waiting for a peer review before full acceptance in their official code base.
This aspect of preparing to do with tests and revisions that end up on a difficult fork can be a long process, if not more time consuming, rather than reaching a consensus on a decentralized platform.
So despite an original release date for October 8, the grand premiere of the next ethereum hard fork may not be expected until later in the month or sometimes in November.
Fortunately, the peak of all five EIPs to be included in Constantinople gave ethereum fans and critics have a good sense of what to expect.
The only thing tuned in for now is a primary execution.
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