The month of September is an exciting month for anyone following Ethereum. The development team behind Ethereum is working hard towards a much anticipated upgrade known as Metropolis. The hard fork is poised to relieve a lot of stress on the Ethereum ecosystem, as well as, bring a little more convenient functionality for it’s users. Metropolis will be split into 2 core releases: Byzantium & Constantinople. The Byzantium release is scheduled to implement on the 4.3 millionth block or on September 22nd. Update: The Byzantium Hard Fork will hit the testnet on September 18th and is scheduled to go live on October 9th, 2017 ( not final ).
Let’s take a look at some of the planned upgrades being introduced in Byzantium.
- Foundations for ZK-SNARKs / Zero-Knowledge Proofs
Byzantium will include the building blocks to implement zero-knowledge proofs or ZK-SNARKs in the future. The implementation of ZK-SNARKs will allow a higher-level of anonymity for the Ethereum ecosystem. To learn more about ZK-SNARKs, read the paper by Solidity founder, Christian Reitwießner: http://chriseth.github.io/notes/articles/zksnarks/zksnarks.pdf
- Abstraction – EIP 86
Account abstraction is another great feature planned for the upcoming fork. It will allow users to have more control over their private keys and the ability for contracts to pay the mining fees instead of having the sender always pay for the gas. Additionally, the account abstraction will reduce the risk of being hacked by quantum computing.
- Simplified Programming in Solidity
The Solidity programming language is undergoing an upgrade to allow novice programmers to easily work with smart contracts. New functionality and an easier hands-on approach will encourage new programmers to begin building their applications and smart contracts.
- Mining Difficulty Time-Bomb
According to the development team, the difficulty time-bomb will be delayed By 18 Months ( source: core dev meeting ), this will reduce the block times from 24.3s to 14.1s. However, it’s implementation will increase difficulty for miners and make it less profitable in the future. The time bomb introduction is to slowly move Ethereum away from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS). The benefits of PoS versus PoW will be discussed in another post. Update: The number of ETH issued per block will drop from 5 to 3.
These features are some of the exciting ones planned for the upcoming Metropolis fork. With the new upgrades in place, Ethereum stands to gain increased anonymity and faster transaction speeds, which in turn should raise adoption. Updates will follow as the date to Byzantium nears.
Discussion: What are your thoughts regarding the upcoming Metropolis hard fork? Do you think the price of Ethereum will increase or decrease because of the fork? Let us know in the comments below.
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