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Ethereum Network Fork: Metropolis Byzantium

20:15 17/01/2019
Ethereum Network Fork Metropolis Byzantium

Introduction

 

Metropolis is a large-scale update of the Ethereum network and the third stage of its evolution, which follows Frontier and Homestead and precedes Serenity. This update is of great importance due to several features included in its structure.

 

The scope of planned changes in the environment was so enormous that the update was divided into two parts. The first part called Byzantium was applied to the Ethereum mainnet on October 15, 2017.

 

The second part was called Constantinople. It was to be performed in November 2018. However, it was found to be not ready enough. As a result, problems with reaching a consensus made developers postpone the release date to mid-January 2019.

 

Let's find out what the Byzantium update is and what its basic properties are.

 

Byzantium Content

 

Basically, each Ethereum update consists of several EIPs. EIP (an Ethereum improvement proposal) is similar to BIP used in Bitcoin. Naturally, it has its own application and discussion rules. EIP can be a standalone solution or, as is the case with Byzantium, a part of a combined proposal.

 

There are many sources to find their list and description, including the official GitHub page, Reddit forum post or the explanation article.

 

EIP Explained

 

Naturally, the types of EIP and their brief descriptions can cause difficulties for a regular user of the Ethereum network. Sometimes only developers understand what one or the other update stands for. Thus, before moving towards the description of Byzantium innovations, it is necessary to clarify its components.

 

The list of EIPs can be found here:

 

  • EIP 98 is intended to add some parallelism in transaction processing;
  • EIP 100 makes corrections in the rewarding system with uncle blocks included;
  • EIP 140 adds a gas saving approach within the smart contract calling system when it should be checked for correctness;
  • EIP 196, EIP 197 and EIP 198 add cryptographic components to support some additional privacy functionality;
  • EIP 211 adds two commands for returned data size check;
  • EIP 214 increases safety when a contract is referring to an unknown source;
  • EIP 658 allows light nodes to receive verification messages showing whether their transaction was successful;
  • EIP 684 delays the so-called Ethereum Ice Age, the time when mining will become unprofitable.

 

General benefits

 

In combination, the above-mentioned EIPs bring many useful changes to the system. Let’s have a look at the basic ones:

 

  1. Initially, it was necessary to specify a public address to confirm the transaction. By implementing the ZK-SNARK approach in addressing processes, developers assure that privacy and anonymity will significantly increase.
  2. Solidity programming becomes simpler as some verifications and checks become unnecessary.
  3. The launch of the Difficulty Time Bomb, after which the Ethereum Ice Age will come, is postponed, which allows miners to continue their work.

 

Afterword

 

As the Ethereum network evolves, there will be more interesting improvements. Ethereum is the first technological solution developing dynamically in many different aspects. Combining its own virtual machine (EVM), programming languages, blockchain approach, privacy and mining issues, Ethereum is an example of an open innovative project supported by the community area. Once the new update is released, we will be able to analyze what interesting changes have occurred in the network.

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