Constantinople is the name of the next major update for Ethereum. It brings five ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) to the table. Once Constantinople is released, every node in the network needs to be updated. The proposals will completely alter the blockchain. But there’s a major risk that some of the node owners will not agree with the updates, in which case two different versions of Ethereum will exist. This is called a hard fork, which often means there will be a lot of drama on the web.
There are five major updates for Ethereum on the horizon, but there’s only one of them that’s causing lots of debate. The block mining reward will change from 3 ETH down to 2 ETH. This will also delay the difficulty increase for another 12 months. This would mean that miners will get 30% less rewards, but the difficulty will be stable for one year, which would benefit miners as blocks will be mined faster. But lower block difficulties will make it easier for enterprices to dive into the mining market, especially since ASIC mining hardware that’s build for the Ethash script (used to mine Ethereum) is now being released. ASIC mining systems are optimized for one task, and one task only: mining. These are difficult to come by: they are limited in supply and very expensive. This would drive away consumer miners and would give more power to mining companies.
Coindesk did an interesting deep dive into the update. Now the software will be made more efficient for information processing and executing large-scale code, while other updates give users more control over pricing and smart contracts. This would mean that smart contracts for – for example – Cryptokitties, will be much smoother and faster. When Cryptokitties launched, the Ethereum network couldn’t handle the workload. These type of issues should now be undone. Faster processing of data can also be achieved through verification. Instead of reading an entire smart contract, a simple hash (a piece of code) will do the trick. Developers will benefit from this update big time, because updating smart contracts will be made a lot cheaper. Check out the article on Coindesk for a real in-depth look at Constantinople.
The Core developers of Ethereum have been very open in their communication about the update. Months in advance things were already being discussed and announced. It seems unlikely a real hard fork will happen, even though it should not be ruled out. The last time Ethereum launched a major update, Ethereum Classic came into existence. Constantinople is planned for a release on October 8th, but it’s also possible launch will be postponed till November. A formal block number has not been finalized yet.