Ethereum (ETH), the world’s biggest altcoin and dapp platform, will undergo a hard fork upgrade (or backwards incompatible update) today on February 28th.
The two hard fork updates, Constantinople and St. Petersburg, will be activated today, meaning that Ethereum’s full-node validators will have to update their client software to the latest version. The set of upgrades will include important modifications to the Ethereum codebase, which will be implemented at block number 7,280,000.
In the upgrade process, St. Petersburg’s code is set to effectively disable certain parts of the Constantinople codebase. The Constantinople update was initially programmed to be released in mid-January 2019, but the date was postponed due to a critical vulnerability being discovered.
The vulnerability was found last month by cybersecurity firm ChainSecurity. The software bug which referenced certain smart contracts was detected just a few hours before the hard fork was scheduled to occur.
Lane Rettig, an independent blockchain developer, stated that implementation of the four out of five of the Ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) will not make any noticeable changes to the end-user. The hard fork upgrades will activate the following EIPs:
- “EIP 145 – more cost-effective and overall efficient approach to processing information (by adding bitwise shifting operators to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM);
- EIP 1014: better approach to accommodating network scaling solutions such as off-chain transactions;
- EIP 1052 – an improvement on how contracts are processed;
- EIP1234 – 12-month delay of difficulty bomb; reduce mining rewards from 3 ETH to 2 ETH per block;
- EIP 1283 – a better way to monetize data storage changes (made by smart contract programmers)”
At the time of writing this article, there are 1,228 blocks left to be mined until the 7,280,000 Ethereum block.
EIP 1283 will not be activated with Constantinople in this hard fork update since it had the discovered software bug. The EIP activations these updates will bring are expected to reduce block rewards for miners from 3 to 2 ETH. When the Byzantium fork was introduced a few years ago, mining rewards were cut down from 5 ETH to 3 ETH.
Gradually reducing the rewards for Ethereum miners is part of a plan to achieve a network “Ice Age.” When the network enters its Ice Age phase, its miners will not be motivated enough to continue mining on the Ethereum blockchain as no meaningful rewards will be given for generating new blocks. This will allow for Ethereum to change its consensus protocol from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS) – assuming that all other technical aspects are in order.