After more than a year since their last biggest upgrade and after some considerable testing, ethereum’s Byzantium Metropolis hardfork client has now been released.
This is an uncontroversial hardfork as far as we can see, with ethereum’s network seemingly being in general agreement towards the upgrade.
But it is a hardfork. Which means that at exactly block number 4,370,000, estimated to be on October 17th, just two weeks from now, a new ethereum chain and network will be created, with the old one discarded.
As such, all current operators of some 20,000 ethereum nodes need to upgrade as soon as possible and certainly before October 17th in order to remain on the main network.
That includes all miners and all businesses as well as all other node operators because non-upgraded nodes will no longer be able to interact with the ethereum network after October 17th.
Which means your node will cease functioning after October 17th as far as its services of connecting to the ethereum network are concerned if it does not upgrade.
Therefore, all are expected to do so in the next few days with just under two weeks now left to go until one of ethereum’s biggest upgrade so far.
The upgrade implements a number of efficiency gains and improvements for smart contracts as well as ordinary transactions with two headline features.
Firstly, it will increase privacy by implementing zk-Snarks to some extent to the point where an ethereum developer was able to verify the zk-snarks part of a Zcash transaction.
That’s just the first step towards greater privacy in ethereum with the protocol to further improve privacy aspects in future releases.
While the second headline feature is a reduction in blocktimes, which should nearly double capacity and therefore buy the network some more time until Proof of Stoke (PoS) which has been delayed.
As such, the network will also delay the exponential increase in difficulty that was placed for the upgrade to PoS. A delays which requires a decrease in issuance from 5eth per block to 3eth per block due to the decrease in block times.
Vitalik Buterin, ethereum’s inventor, has stated PoS might be implemented as early as next year, but that estimate might be slightly optimistic.
In the meantime, Byzantium’s increase of capacity might hopefully allow ethereum to smoothly function with sufficient capacity and ability to meet transactions demand.