After a successful integration of the first part of the Metropolis Hard Fork, Byzantium, Ethereum has it’s eyes set on Constantinople. The second part of the Metropolis hard fork will introduce new features and may finally include the foundations for the Casper Proof-of-Stake.
Foundations for Casper
According to the most recent Ethereum Core Dev Meeting, Constantinople will be shedding light onto a new hybrid PoS/PoW blockchain. With this new update, transactions on the Ethereum network will continue to be mined using the current Proof of Work ( PoW ) Consensus Algorithm, but 1 out of every 100 blocks will be validated using the new Proof of Stake consensus algorithm.
Difficulty Time Bomb
The difficulty time bomb or better known as the Ethereum Ice Age, was delayed in Byzantium due to the increase in block times coming up to the initial fork. With Constantinople, there will be no delay in the difficulty time bomb and we can expect to see the effects of the Ice Age in about ~12 months. The difficulty time bomb is a mechanism used to make mining less profitable and much harder in order to forcefully move network participants towards the Proof of Stake chain.
Another EIP ( Ethereum Improvement Protocol ) which was set to be included in Byzantium, but later deferred to be included in Constantinople, is EIP-86. EIP-86 brings account abstraction to the Ethereum network which will allow users to have more control over their private keys. EIP-86 will also allow for smart contracts to pay transaction fees rather than always having the sender settle the Gas payments.
Overall, Constantinople will be introducing the much needed building blocks for Ethereum’s switch to the Casper Proof of Stake protocol. It will also be re-introducing some improvements that were meant to be included in Byzantium but were deferred to Constantinople. The benefits of Proof of Stake vs Proof of Work will be discussed in another article, but one of the main benefits of PoS is the lack of a need to use expensive hardware and electricity to validate transactions.
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