• A new Ethereum hard fork is scheduled to take place on February 28th, 2019
  • Code-named ‘Constantinople’ the hard fork is part of an ongoing upgrade to Ethereum network
  • The Constantinople fork will see five Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) implemented on the Ethereum blockchain

February’s Ethereum Fork Explained

February 28th, 2019, will see a new Ethereum hard fork take place. Moreover, in anticipation of the Ethereum fork, the ETH price has moved into a new bullish zone. Lets look at why Ethereum is forking, and what changes ETH uses can expect to soon see implemented on the Ethereum blockchain.

Why is the Ethereum Fork Necessary?

Hard forks can be a sign of troubling times ahead for cryptocurrency investors. Recent hard forks like the Bitcoin Cash hard fork, after all, saw Bitcoin Cash fork into two new coin variants. The good news, though, is that this is unlikely to happen with Ethereum.

Why Ethereum likely won’t split during the upcoming hard fork is simple. Unlike with Bitcoin Cash, the Ethereum hard fork will take place as part of an ongoing four-stage development program which started in 2015.

Ethereum’s Long Term Development Roadmap

Ethereum development has been ongoing since the cryptocurrency first launched in 2015. Moreover, development has been staggered into four stages with specific code-names. These being:

Frontier

Homestead

Metropolis

Serenity

February 28ths Ethereum hard fork code-named ‘Constantinople,’ is part Ethereums’ Metropolis upgrade. Moreover, Constantinople represents one of Ethereums most hotly anticipated upgrades. This is thanks to the fact that Constantinople will help pave the way for Ethereum transitioning to become a proof of stake cryptocurrency.

Constantinople Explained

Constantinople will see five Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) implemented on the ETH blockchain.

Bitwise Shifting

Ethereum executes smart contracts and D’Apps in a virtual computing environment. However, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is incapable of a form of processing known as bitwise shifting. Specifically, a form of processing which can be used to reduce smart contract and D’App execution times.

Ethereum Improvement Proposal 145 will add bitwise shifting capability the Ethereum Virtual Machine. As a result, smart contracts and D’Apps will benefit from faster processing and reduced Ethereum GAS fees.

Smart Contract Optimization

When Ethereum processes smart contracts, the Ethereum Virtual Machine checks the integrity of every line of smart contact code. However, only a few lines contain information needed to verify transactions. For this reason, Ethereum Improvement Proposal  1052, will reduce the amount of code checked by Ethereum, thereby expediting overall transaction processing.

Improved ETH GAS Metering

Decentralized apps and smart contracts hosted on Ethereum take up valuable system resources. Ethereum, therefore makes app developers pay fees in the form of GAS to cover hosting and running costs.

Sadly, fees deter some developers from using Ethereum. Ethereum Improvement Proposal 1283 will, therefore, substantially reduce GAS fees by implementing smarter metering of network resources.

State Channels

When smart contracts and D’Apps are executed on Ethereum, several non-essential pieces of information are exchanged between D’Apps (and smart contracts) and Ethereum miners. Ethereum Improvement Proposal 1014 will, therefore, reduce the number of communications sent to miners. As a result, both fees and transaction settlement times will be reduced.

Preparation to Transition to Proof of Stake

At present, Ethereum is a proof of work cryptocurrency. Miners, therefore, use mining hardware to verify transaction blocks in return for transaction fees and newly minted ETH coins. In future, though, Ethereum will transition to a proof of stake consensus algorithm.

Proof of stake will see Ethereum stakeholders lock funds in wallets and process transactions by operating network nodes rather than mining rigs.

To encourage miners to become stakeholders, Ethereum mining difficulty is designed to increase to a point where Ethereum will be impossible to mine profitably. However, mining difficulty is currently rising faster than anticipated. Ethereum Improvement Proposal 1234 will, therefore, delay the so-called Ethereum ‘Difficulty Bomb’ for 12-months until Ethereum is ready to transition fully to POS.

Do Investors Need to Prepare for February’s Ethereum Fork?

Because Constantinople is part of a planned network upgrade, Ethereum investors do not need to worry too much about the upcoming hard fork. However, just like with any hard fork, it is advisable to secure coin private keys beforehand, in case of the unlikely event of a network split.