Ethereum’s (ETH) Constantinople upgrade occurred via hard fork on February 28th, 2019. Despite a series of delays and potential pitfalls, the upgrade went through without problems and the Ethereum blockchain continues to operate – with Constantinople’s new features introduced. The final delay happened earlier this year, as the development team discovered a critical security flaw. The delay gave them time to properly fix the flaw and ensure that the blockchain’s integrity remained in place.
Several changes to the blockchain come along with the hard fork – most aimed at optimizing the blockchain’s code. This optimization should help reduce gas expenditures – a welcome change for high-transaction dApps deploying on the Ethereum blockchain. Further, efforts are ongoing to make the Ethereum blockchain more hospitable to off-chain solutions like the Raiden Network. While transactions are currently proceeding smoothly, another spike in volume like the previous crypto-boom could still slow major chains to a crawl.
Ethereum Seeks a Hard Fork Coordinator
Now that Constantinople’s rough roll-out is complete, the Ethereum development community must look to the next upgrade. Particularly after the exit of major developer Afri Schoeden, a more coordinated effort may be required. Schoeden stopped any work on the Ethereum blockchain after finding himself beset by public criticism. In a relatively innocuous tweet, Schoeden chided the Serenity project for their slow progress. The Ethereum community responded poorly, up to and including threatening Schoeden.
Now, the overall developer community is looking to establish a hard fork coordinator position. The position in question would set the final cut-off date for included code, as well as managing the testing and inclusion itself. If such a position could be established, it would theoretically help avoid the type of delays seen with the Constantinople roll out.
The Impact of Constantinople
While Constantinople is not the ultimate change to Proof-of-Stake, it is a major milestone on the path. Ethereum’s developers are committed to the switch, and Constantinople is helping to lay the groundwork. The update also contained a critical slowdown of the upcoming ‘Difficulty Bomb’ – a coded date on which the difficulty of Ethereum mining will become nearly impossible. Should the difficulty bomb go off, miners would no longer create new Ethereum – an economically disastrous proposition. Constantinople instead reduces the rewarded Ethereum, while offsetting the difficulty bomb – reward blocks are now two ETH instead of the previous three.