Finally: Ethereum’s Network Upgrade Constantinople Is Here

Constantinople, an upgrade to Ethereum’s network has gone live. The upgrade marks the end of a month-long wait due to the discovery of potentially hazardous security vulnerabilities in the upgrade’s underlying code.

The Constantinople and St. Petersburg upgrades were activated at block number 7,280,000 yesterday, Feb. 28.

At the moment, not all Ethereum users have gotten onboard the network. At press time, about 41.8 percent of Parity and 24.1 percent of Geth clients have switched to the network upgrade.

A Series of Postponements

The initial rollout of the Constantinople upgrade was scheduled for November 2018, but it was subsequently postponed after an upgraded protocol on its Ropsten test network was discovered to have some defects.

The latest delay was forced by a report which disclosed that specific properties of the upgrade were investigated and discovered to be flawed.

According to the report which was compiled by smart contact firm ChainSecurity, the implementation of the Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1283, included in the hard fork, could create a loophole on the Ethereum network.

Dubbed a “reentrancy attack,” the loophole would have made it possible for hackers to enter into specific functions on the network on multiple occasions and steal funds without the knowledge of affected users. The hacker could just as easily continue taking funds without ever being discovered.

The report forced Ethereum’s core developers to postpone the rollout. At a developer’s call on January 18, participants decided to fix the security flaw and develop a new rollout strategy; a strategy which involved excluding the affected EIP in today’s release.

Constantinople and St. Petersburg

The Constantinople system-wide upgrade is the sixth one to be implemented on Ethereum, the second largest blockchain according to market capitalization.

Along with the St. Petersburg version (the 7th upgrade, which the developers are releasing simultaneously), both networks were launched as two separate upgrades combined into one.

However, for all of that, independent Ethereum developer Lane Rettig also confirmed that the changes wouldn’t be noticeable to the average network user.

Meanwhile, the Constantinople upgrade is expected to serve as more of an “optimization and maintenance upgrade,” according to Rettig. The developer also explained that users- especially miners- who choose to implement it would see a wide array of changes.

Lower Ether Rewards

Amongst other things, implementing Constantinople will see the Ethereum block rewards given to miners reduced from three Ether (ETH) tokens to two. Byzantium, a previous hard fork of Ethereum, introduced a similar change, reducing the number of block rewards from 5 ETH tokens to 3.

The two upgrades are also expected to provide various other changes to the overall functionality of Ethereum’s blockchain, with the most noticeable one being an improvement to the scalability of the network.

The blockchain’s speed, efficiency, and cost of gas will see an improvement as well.
Before the implementation of the hard fork, users had to pay 5,000 gas to perform storage operations on the network. However, the upgrade is expected to bring this cost down to a mere 200 gas.

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