It seems that Christmas is coming earlier for users of Ethereum. The blockchain behind the second-largest cryptocurrency is about to see what is known as the “Istanbul” hard fork or blockchain update, which is one of the network’s few-and-far-between and important named upgrades.
But this may leave you wondering, what exactly is Istanbul?
What is Ethereum Istanbul?
Within the coming day, Istanbul will be activated. The upgrade will implement six Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), which were chosen from a pool of more than 30 candidates. Here’s a list listing the EIPs and a brief summary of what they do, according to Ethereum Cat Herders.
- EIP 1679: An EIP listing the protocol changes that will be included in Istanbul. That’s all.
- EIP-2200: This EIP will change how the cost of the storage of data is calculated in Ethereum’s Virtual Machine, and will also give smart contracts the ability to execute more functions.
- EIP-1884: This EIP will change the transaction cost of some EVM opcodes “to prevent spamming attacks and to and to balance the amount of computation in each block better.”
- EIP-2028: This EIP will allow for zero-knowledge SNARKs and STARKs technology cheaper on the Ethereum blockchain, reducing the cost of “calling data within outputs.”
- EIP-1344: This EIP will “add a way for contracts to keep track of the Ethereum chain they are on.”
- EIP-1108: This EIP will make zero-knowledge SNARKs cheaper, allowing for cheaper scaling and privacy technologies.
- EIP-152: “Adds the ability to verify the Equihash PoW within an ethereum contract. This will enable a relay and atomic-swap transactions between Zcash and Ethereum.”
While Istanbul is rapidly approaching, it appears that not all node-runners of the network are ready for the upgrade. According to Ethernodes.org, a mere 48% of nodes running the most popular Geth client are ready to adopt Istanbul, while 40% of those running Parity is ready for the upgrade.
Due to the shortage of nodes running the updated software as this hard fork approaches, the Ethereum community has called for operators of nodes to update their clients to avoid consensus issues. As an excerpt from a blog post from the Ethereum Foundation notes:
If you are using an Ethereum client that is not updated to the latest version (listed above), 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 network.
It is important to point out that there may not be consensus issues when Istanbul activates, as long as all businesses dealing with Ethereum (exchanges, DeFi operators, etc.) and miners/other maintainers of the network upgrade their nodes prior to the activation of Istanbul.
70 hours until Ethereum's next upgrade, Istanbul.
Update your nodes!
— eric.eth (@econoar) December 5, 2019
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