On November 7th, Péter Szilágyi announced the date of the foundations impending upgrade, known as ‘Istanbul’. This upgrade will be the eighth hard fork completed by Ethereum since the cryptocurrency was launched on July 30th, 2015. Although Istanbul was due for the launch of December 4th, this date has since now officially been moved forward to December 7th of this year.
A Hard Fork in the Road
Istanbul is set to introduce several improvements to the Ethereum network. These include reduced zero-knowledge layer two scalability solutions, enhanced operability with Zcash, and changes in gas price for specific operations.
Monfex is pleased to report that this update marks a milestone in the long journey towards Ethereum 2.0, which is anticipated to prove an “Ultimate’ efficient version of the cryptocurrency network.
Node Operators Take Note
Any node operators will have until December 1st, 2019, to update the relevant software. With Ethereum reassuring their network that clients such as Parity, Geth, Nethermind, and Besu will all be compatible with the ‘Istanbul’ upgrade.
The official Ethereum guide announced:
“If you are using an Ethereum client that is not updated to the latest version, your client will sync to the pre-fork blockchain once the upgrade occurs. You will be stuck on an incompatible chain following the old rules, and you will be unable to send ether or operate on the post-upgrade Ethereum network,”
In the meantime, users of mobile apps, hardware wallets, web wallets, and popular exchanges such as Monfex are not required to take any action. This is unless their service provider contacts them and urges them to make any necessary steps to ensure the security of their Ethereum.
Transitioning to Serenity
Istanbul is set to be the final hard fork on Ethereum’s 1.0 network. The update will set the wheels in motion for ‘Serenity’, which is one of five phases of improvement in the transition to Ethereum 2.0.
Ethereums Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin explained these five phases in his speech at Devcon 2018 , he announced,
“Serenity is being guided by five design principles: Simplicity, Resilience, Longevity, Security, Decentralization. The gradual approach to Serenity is meant to ensure all principles are developed and upheld, further positioning Ethereum as a market leader in blockchain-based solutions.”
A Huge Scale Update
Before ‘Istanbul’ is live as an update, Casper will be activated, and the network will switch over to the ‘Proof-of-Stake-Algorithm. Additionally, there are plans to launch another major update named ‘Berlin’ before the end of June 2020.
The global Ethereum community currently depends upon the ‘ Ethereum Improvement Proposals ’ as a governance vehicle. These proposals make specific suggestions that relate to changes to smart contract standards, changes in the core protocol, and client APIs.
The Ethereum community is currently pushing to change to an ‘EIP-centric’ approach to system upgrades. This approach allows smaller and more frequent forks to develop proposals at a slower pace. The first such hard fork in this paradigm will be the ‘Berlin’ update next year.Istanbul will take what’s known as a “fork-centric’ approach, in which multiple proposals in various life-cycle stages have been reviewed and pitched during any Core Devs calls or meetings.
Developers discuss and classify EIPS (Ethereum Improvement Proposals) as ‘desired’ and ready to be implemented into the fork, or ‘tentatively accepted’, meaning they will likely be implemented into the next hard fork. Alternatively, they are classed as ‘not desired’ and will be permanently rejected.
In total, 38 EIPs were proposed and presented for the ‘Istanbul’ hard fork update, with six being accepted, and eight being approved for implementation in 2020’s Berlin Fork.
The Four Ethereum Improvement Proposals Implemented in the Istanbul Update
This improvement proposal will enable verification of the Equihash proof-of-work algorithm inside Ethereum contacts. This will allow Ethereum blockchains and Zcash to operate in synergy.
This improvement will reduce the cost of precompile gas, paving the way for a new generation of zero-knowledge proof. Overall this improvement is expected to improve the development of applications that are privacy-focused and use Ethereum cryptography. The update is also set to make Ethereum more scalable by taking some computational work off the blockchain.
EIP-1344 will help contacts in tracking the specific Ethereum chain that they are on. This will help with security, improving the network’s overall resilience to replay attacks on transactions that are signed.
This accepted improvement proposal has caused arguments and controversy since the middle of 2018. After being introduced by Ethereum’s Security Lead, Martin Holst Swende, the proposal is set to obtain a good balance between gas expenditure and resource consumption. ”
The improvement intends to solve problems resulting from resource-intensive operations as the Ethereum blockchain expands. There is fear that the changing of opcode costs could break pre-deployed contracts. However, it has since been confirmed that EIP-1884 will only impact a minimal number of contracts across a wealth of projects.
U.K. Crypto Assets U-Turn
This news comes at the same time that British news provider ‘The Week’ announced that “Bitcoin and rivals Ethereum and Ripple have suffered their biggest declines in six months, wiping billions off the cryptocurrency market.”
It seems that the United Kingdom’s stance on cryptocurrency is ever-changing. In early November, the U.K. tax office announced that “crypto is neither currency nor money.”
Nevertheless, on November 18th, 2019, the U.K. Jurisdiction Taskforce (of the Law Society’s LawTech Delivery Panel) published a statement that:
‘ Crypto assets have all the legal characteristics of the property and should, as a matter of English law, be treated as property ’ This means that freezing of assets can now cover crypto investments for U.K. residents.
It’s been a busy week for global changes of opinion and regulation surrounding cryptocurrency as China has promised to dispose of local exchanges. This comes just weeks after Monfex reported that China had encouraged crypto mining and publicly praised blockchain technology in its official state media.
It certainly seems that the global opinion is divided as superpowers and governments try to regulate and manipulate the cryptocurrency market.