“Constantinople,” Ethereum’s next upgrade, is spurring a variety of updates to adjacent systems. Ever popular client access system Geth is now fully compliant as of their last patch. Although the upgrade involves few front-end changes, Constantinople is critically important for preserving the blockchain. As Ethereum moves towards a Proof of Stake consensus, the community will be forced to deal with considerable fallout.
Ethereum is still suffering severely in the current market, with prices now a fraction of their all time high. The mining infrastructure that Ethereum depends on is in jeopardy – partially through their own actions. When the decision was made to switch from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake, the ETH mining community understandably balked. The switch will render millions of dollars in mining equipment completely obsolete. To ensure that the change to PoS is carried out, Ethereum implemented a ‘difficulty bomb’ in the blockchain.
Ethereum’s Looming Problem
Understanding that deliberating could lead to inaction, Ethereum’s difficulty bomb ensures that the PoS situation is addressed. Should the developers fail to do so, the difficulty level for Ethereum mining would explode, making it effectively impossible to create new ETH. This would jeopardize the blockchain, as users would have no incentive to validate transactions. The bomb’s detonation would not necessarily signal the end of Ethereum – but it would take major efforts to overcome the issues.
Instead, they continue to delay the bomb – which comes with its own set of problems. Delaying the difficulty bomb requires reconfiguring the block discovery difficulty. This allows faster discovery of blocks and necessitates lower block rewards – something which Constantinople is set to do. Ultimately, this is precisely what the bomb was designed for, forcing the development team to progress towards a Proof of Stake model.
The State of Ethereum
Entering 2018, Ethereum’s largest issue lay in transactional friction and traffic jams. The explosion of the dApp market generated an amount of traffic that no one had predicted. Developers scrambled to find a solution – and came to the Raiden Network. Alongside Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, it created the concept of using off-chain transactions to ease main blockchain traffic. Constantinople tweaks a few main blockchain features to help this process.
However, Ethereum’s problems have shifted in the past year. Now, they need to be more concerned with long term viability of the entire system. The complete price crash leaves the average developer looking for a better solution – Ethereum is no longer the only choice in the field. Both EOS and Tron offer arguably better environments for dApp creation, and Ethereum will need to move quickly to maintain their dominance.
Article By: Adam Stone