Ethereum’s Constantinople Hard Fork Delayed

Constantinople, the proposed hard fork upgrade to the Ethereum blockchain, has been delayed due to consensus issues on the test net, according to a tweet from the Ethereum infrastructure firm, Infura, on October 13th.

Halting the Change

The hard fork, which proposes five improvements to the blockchain, has generated a significant amount of controversy. Constantinople includes slight enhancements to network efficiency and a significant reduction in mining rewards (from 3 ETH to 2 ETH), to name a few changes.

This update will be the second part of the “Byzantium” upgrade meant to move Ethereum from a proof-of-work consensus algorithm to a proof-of-stake one.

Constantinople went live on the Ropsten test net at block number 4,230,000 on October 13th—but the block released with zero transactions. According to Coindesk, empty blocks continued to process, meaning Constantinople had stalled.

Afri Schoedon, release manager of the Parity Ethereum client, stated in a Gitter chat that the standstill occurred because miners failed to upgrade to the new software. Fortunately, some miners did just that and are working to solve the issue.

Regardless, this caused a delay in the Constantinople test net deployment, and engineers recommended users move to another test net until the issue can be figured out. On October 19th, engineers will have a call to discuss their next steps.

Schoedon tweeted that there would be no Constantinople release this year, but later clarified that developers would “not be able to activate Constantinople this year if there are any major issues on Ropsten,” and that we should “stay tuned” until the call on the 19th.

Smartereum reports that Griff Green, founder of blockchain-based nonprofit, Giveth, believes activation will stay delayed until early next year.

On top of the consensus issues, Martin Holst Swende, the Ethereum Foundation’s security lead, discovered a bug in the update’s code. While there is a proposed solution, it won’t see implementation until the test net stabilizes.

Moving Up in the World

As mentioned above, Constantinople is introducing five Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs):

  • EIP 145: A slight upgrade that streamlines the information processing method also known as bitwise shifting.
  • EIP 1014: Vitalik Buterin proposed this upgrade, meant to increase scalability by utilizing state channels and “off-chain” technology.
  • EIP 1052: Rewrites the large-scale code processing method.
  • EIP 1234: Created by Schoedon himself, this upgrade reduces the block mining reward from 3 ETH to 2 ETH while also delaying the “difficulty bomb” for up to a year.
  • EIP 1283: Establishes a cheaper way to handle data storage for smart contract developers.

Shifting From the Plan

Back in August, Cointelegraph reported on a Constantinople debate between some Ethereum developers. At the time, they stated that there may have to be a second hard fork to add in any delayed EIP’s instead of rushing them out all in one:

“If we delay the time, we would want more features to this particular [Constantinople] hard fork and we should discuss if it’s good to have many changes in one fork, or it’s better to have less changes in many hard forks.”

The group also proposed releasing a new hard fork every eight months after the official Constantinople upgrade, as the original six-month plan would be too stressful for the development team.

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