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What is Ethereum Constantinople?

by Alan Daniel

Whether you are reading about Constantinople for the first time or have heard from the chattering class about the Ethereum update, learning more about it is very important.

This is due to the potential improvements that the upgrade will bring to the Ethereum platform.

From making various positive changes to opening the doors to newer updates in the future, Constantinople brings a plethora of possibilities to Ethereum.

To learn what Constantinople is, what it will mean for Ethereum, and if and when it will go into effect, let’s take a closer look at Constantinople.

What is Constantinople?

Technically, Constantinople is a “hard fork” of Ethereum that brings about several major upgrades to the network.

There will be no new cryptocurrencies originating out of Constantinople. It will do what it’s meant to do: upgrade the Ethereum platform. The catch is that the upgrades will be backwards-incompatible and are bound to change the fundamentals of the Ethereum blockchain. As such, Constantinople is considered to be a hard fork.

According to Ethereum co-founder and Chief Scientist, Vitalik Buterin, it should be referred to as a network upgrade to avoid confusion.

What Will it Do for Ethereum?

Constantinople is comprised of multiple Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs). These EIP’s are meant to change the core aspects of Ethereum.

These optimization or network upgrades may not be readily apparent to Ethereum users but still serve an important purpose. They are going to set the foundation for Ethereum to move from its current Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus to the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, among other changes.

The EIPs that Constantinople includes are:

  • EIP 145: Bitwise shifting instructions in EVM
  • EIP 1014: Skinny CREATE2
  • EIP 1052: EXTCODEHASH Opcode
  • EIP 1283: Net gas metering for SSTORE without dirty maps (replaces 1087)
  • EIP 1234: Constantinople Difficulty Bomb Delay and Block Reward Adjustment

To summarize, these updates will make fundamental changes to Ethereum that will allow it to work a bit faster, have a revised fee model, and have reduced block rewards.

In addition to that, it will also inflict an additional 12 month delay to the Ethereum “difficulty bomb” or “ice age”.

The difficulty bomb is set to trigger when Ethereum reaches a specific number of block rewards. This event will make mining much more difficult.

Constantinople will delay the event by reducing block rewards. It will buy some time for the platform before it is effectively forced to switch to a new consensus algorithm (which it plans to do in the form of PoS).

Why Constantinople?

Constantinople is an important update because it will bring about significant improvements and irreversible changes to the underlying Ethereum platform.

These upgrades are all part of the “Metropolis” phase of Ethereum’s larger roadmap.

Once these updates are settled, Ethereum developers may focus completely on bringing about the larger updates such as Ethereum 2.0 with a detailed and consistent roadmap.

Some of the major future updates that Constantinople helps to bring about are:

  • Switch to PoS, which will change the network’s consensus algorithm.
  • Implementation of Sharding, which will improve the scalability problems.
  • Implementation of Ethereum flavored WebAssembly (eWASM), which will allow for WebAssembly to be used in Ethereum in an efficient manner.

When Constantinople?

In a tweet dated January 18, Ethereum’s team lead Péter Szilágyi noted that its much-awaited Constantinople update had been postponed until late February.

According to Szilágyi, it will now take place on February 27th instead of its originally planned date of January 16th.

The news was taken with mixed reactions. A majority of Ethereum users supported the move, mentioning how it was a better decision to pull off the fork correctly, even if it comes with a little delay.

Get ready for Constantinople, it will be here, we just don’t know when.

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