Ethereum has successfully completed the Istanbul hard fork, while by hitting at block number 9,069,000, the systemwide upgrade is the network’s third in 2019, after February’s St. Petersburg and Constantinople hard forks.
It has been analyzed that another iteration of Ethereum 1.x, Istanbul is the network’s eighth hard fork overall with the first code changes being approved in June 2019.
However, Eth 2, the network’s major transition to proof-of-stake (PoS), is expected in 2021. Being non-contentious, all Ethereum clients, which host and independently upgrade the ethereum protocol themselves, have agreed to the new software.
Istanbul includes six Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), specific code changes to the Ethereum protocol, including EIPs 152, 1108, 1344, 1844, 2028 and 2200.
It has been reported from ConsenSys, the Ethereum Venture Studio, that the main issues addressed by the six EIPs are:
Denial-of-service (DDoS) attack resilience (EIP 1344).
Interoperability with equihash-based proof-of-work (PoW) cryptocurrencies such as zcash (EIP 152).
Gas costs (EIPs 1108, 2028, 2200).
As it has been stepping back, the cost to send a transaction on the Ethereum network is called ‘gas’ and paid in fractions of ETH called ‘gwei’. The lowered gas costs enabled by Istanbul’s EIPs are meant to increase bandwidth on the blockchain and foster zero-knowledge privacy technologies such as zk-SNARKs.
Likewise, one scare before Istanbul took place was with Ethereum client Parity, which released an urgent message to Parity Ethereum users to conduct a patch on the pre-released Parity Ethereum update before the Istanbul hard fork occurred. In short, EIP 1344 – concerning opcodes – was not initially included.
Hudson Jameson, the Ethereum Core Developer, said that if Parity clients failed to update in time, a new chain could develop causing double spends.
“Parity represents about 23% of the network and is commonly used by major miners and exchanges. I fear if one to two major exchanges stay on the old fork and one to two major mining pools mine the old chain it will cause confusion and in a more severe case double spends.”
It has been reported in September that 680 smart contracts on Aragon, a governance platform, will be broken by the planned hard fork.
However, certain code changes will change how funds can be sent between decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) by forcing users to manually migrate smart contracts from one structure to the other.
Thus, Izquierdo said:
“Developers don’t want to build on a moving target, and backward compatibility should be taken seriously as well. Ethereum is not a toy anymore, it’s a platform with a sizable investment and a big reach, and as such changes like this need to be professionally measured before being taken.”