Ethereum’s Istanbul hard fork is almost here: Here’s what you need to know

Ethereum’s Istanbul hard fork is going to be launched in a few hours, so what is happening?

Ethereum’s Istanbul hard fork

Ethereum has crossed block #9068000, and within a thousand blocks, the Istanbul hard fork will be going live. The event is expected to occur around 23:30 UTC. The shift to Istanbul would be Ethereum’s first hard fork since Constantinople hard fork that took place in February. Both of these forks are stages of Metropolis, a network development that is ongoing since 2017.

Istanbul hard fork is meant to increase Ethereum’s interoperability with tokens such as Zcash. The fork would make zk-SNARKs cheaper for the network an improvement that would increase user privacy. These zk-SNARKS allow users to prove their data without revealing the content. This boosts both network security and privacy and is key to Ethereum’s drive towards improving network privacy.

Need for nodes?

Before Ethereum’s Istanbul hard fork goes online, all node operators and miners will need to update to the latest version to ensure they are in sync with the fork. People that own Ether or use the network for other purposes do not need to do anything.

However, many people were waiting for the last minute to update their notes as reported by Ethernodes. Almost 50 percent of all Ethereum nodes were still not updated hours before the event. Across the last few days, the rate of nodes upgrading to Istanbul has remained very low, with only 10 percent nodes upgrading in the past day.

If the fork is not supported by a reasonable number of nodes, the update might be pushed back. This would not be a new thing for Ethereum which has already seen a few upgrades delayed for the same reason.