Ethereum Hard Fork: Developers Set New Date for Constantinople Release

Ethereum developers have agreed on January 16th as the new tentative date for the next scheduled hardfork of the ethereum network.

The agreement was made on Friday during the ethereum developers’ bi-weekly call where issues concerning the blockchain are addressed. Ethereum core developer explained that the date which was reached by a non-binding verbal agreement was only an estimate and could still be moved if unexpected problems arise.

He explained:

“We can just say mid-January, it doesn’t make difference if we decide on a date or not. We can always postpone…”

Delays with Ethereum Upgrade

This latest launch date was reached after the original release date in November became unfeasible due to problems encountered when the upgrade was released on the test network.

As Smartereum reported, the code for Constantinople (the upcoming upgrade) was delayed from being deployed on the testnet from October 9 to October 15 in other to allow clients to implement, test and release an update that counters a bug discovered. Despite the initial delay, the testnet launch encountered problems leading the developers to move the release date to 2019. Constantinople was expected to be launched on the mainnet Nov. 4, 2018, just after the Devcon conference.

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Developer Lane Rettig, in his contribution during the call, explained some aspects of Ethereum’s difficulty bomb—an algorithm included in ethereum’s main code that makes blocks steadily harder to mine. Rettig explained that the difficulty bomb, which is designed as an incentive to encourage regular network updates, will become noticeable from January. It would increase the block time to 30 seconds by April or May of next year. “So we have time, there’s no critical concern,” he said.

He initially advised the team to take their time to find out what really went wrong with the testnet launch. According to him, a lot of forensics still needs to be done as the developers should also understand how such issues can be avoided in the future, including all related issues.

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What to Expect from Constantinople

When launched, Constantinople will reduce block mining rewards to 2 ETH per block from the current 3 ETH per block as well as improvements that will benefit smart contracts developers, and better facilitate scaling solutions like state channels and off-chain transactions.

ProgPow or Not

Given the delay, questions are being asked if a proposed change to code to remove ASICs from the network will be included before launch. ASICs—Application Specific Integrated Circuits—are specialized mining rigs which mines optimally and more profitably. The argument against ASICs is that they could undermine the level of decentralization on the network as blocs of ASIC miners can overshadow regular GPU miners and influence the network.

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The proposal referred to as “ProgPow” aims to restrict ethereum mining to these general purpose hardware thereby bricking ASICs manufactured by the likes of Bitmain. Before now, the team decided that all improvements for the Constantinople upgrade were already compiled. And while the inclusion of ProgPoW was not specifically discussed, developers hinted that formal specification of the code is incomplete.


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