Confidence is running high throughout the Ethereum community, as the clock ticks down on the biggest blockchain upgrade to date. The projection of the blockchain split is now Sunday night and they’ve worked tirelessly to avoid past mistakes.
Byzantium is the first of two major upgrades to the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency blockchain.
CoinDesk spoke to Ethereum Foundation developer and designer Alex Van de Sande and he said, “I expect that nothing will happen. Nothing happened with previous hard forks, except for one.”
The upgrade is to take place at block 4,3700,00 on the Ethereum blockchain and is intended to make it faster, lighter, and more private. Byzantium will take place with a hard fork, some are a bit wary about.
This strategy for upgrades is common but sometimes a tad controversial, as that one hard fork some can’t seem to forget. Ethereum has had three flawless hard forks in the past but one in particular last summer created Ethereum classic. It turned out being an emergency hard fork that left a large group still mining on the old blockchain, creating a brand new asset. Ethereum was confronted with a new alternative creating competition and some users/companies lost their funds.
These upgrades are a long time coming, as they were ingrained in Ethereum’s roadmap since its launch in 2015. Most users and developers seem generally excited about the upgrades and changes to the blockchain.
Co-Founder of RexMLS, an Ethereum-based real estate app, Stephen King highlighted the successful pre-testing of Byzantium that has been completed.
He told Coin Desk:
“The fork is pretty uneventful. Everything went smooth on Ropsten, and it appears like all else is on track for a healthy transition,”
The test network, Ropsten, suffered a major spam attack during testing that forced some over to a private testnet. Developers reported that this transition was smooth and progress hasn’t halted as a result of this small disruption. Earlier in the summer, a technology was added to the roadmap that allows them to verify a privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Zcash transaction.
The possibility of smart contracts and private transactions are something many are excited about.
Van de Sande emphasized the technicality of this fork but explained the relief for developers, as there are more options to build applications on top of Ethereum in the future.
The upgrade consists of various ethereum improvement protocols (EIP) and only one has drawn a bit of controversy as it came to light the last few months. The protocol reduces the amount of ether issued in each block and has the potential to reduce the profits for miners. Most miners mine the blockchain primarily for profit. Etherite is a protest movement that has sprung up primarily due to this specific protocol and is targeting those miners mining for profit.
This movement’s lead developer Dylan Young seems to believe a lot of developers are completely unaware of that change.
“The problem is that there are a lot of miners and pools who solely mine for the revenue and do not actually know what they are contributing to,” Young stated. Others, he said, felt that they had “no choice” over the block reward reduction.
A representative from mining pool Nanopool, representing about 9 percent of the Ethereum hashrate, seemed to concur.
“Block reward is a secondary issue, that is under control of Ethereum Foundation. Let’s be honest. Ethereum history is written by developers and investors, not by miners now,” the representative said.
With only one Reddit post, Etherite doesn’t seem to be growing a very big following. The nanopool representative that spoke to CoinDesk expressed their disinterest in joining in this movement, arguing that the drawbacks are “hard to predict.” The newly updated protocol reduces each block reward from 5 ETH to 3 ETH but it also boosts how often the blocks are created, giving more chances to earn the reward. With that being said, Van de Sande believes miners will make about the same.
Despite the opposition to the blockchain split, Young was right about one thing: miners don’t have a choice.
A piece of code called the “difficulty bomb” has been added to slow down the rate that Ethereum blocks are issued to force more miners to move over to a new chain. The developers can still mine the old blockchain but it wouldn’t make any sense and would eventually drop off.
During the DAO fork, miners were polled as a way to vote on the change but this time the miners were excluded from the decision. Young feels a decision can only be reached if EIP is split off into a separate fork so users can assess it on their own.
Ethpool’s CEO Peter Pratscher doesn’t feel it was necessary.
“Our miners have not yet asked us to organize a vote up to now,” he stated.
Time is ticking down and it’s highly unlikely they will get the chance to challenge the new protocol.
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