The Ethereum blockchain network’s Istanbul upgrade is now live. Enacted at block 9,069,000, at 0:25 UTC by way of a hardfork, the upgrade adds features to the Ethereum blockchain, that bring it a step closer to switching to the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism (scheduled for 2021).
Istanbul is the third upgrade the network has effected this year, following the St.Petersburg and Constantinople hardforks back in February. The upgrade went off with zero hickups, as all Ethereum clients opted to support the upgrade, thus abandoning the old chain and avoiding a network split that could have resulted in another version of the network’s native token (ETH) being created.
The upgrade, consisting of six Ethereum Improvement Proposals or EIP’s (EIP’s 152, 1108, 1344,1844,2028, and 2200), addresses specific issues in the Ethereum protocol. According to Consensys, Istanbul adds the following improvements to the network:
EIP 152 enables the Ethereum protocol to verify Equihash PoW (Proof of Work) within smart contracts, allowing for interoperability between the ZCash blockchain and the Ethereum blockchain
EIP 1108 increases the network’s bandwidth and lowers gas fees, making the zk-SNARKS privacy protocol more cost effective to implement.
EIP 1344 enables smart contracts to keep track of which chain they are operating on. This enables smart contracts to transition seamlessly between chains, and second layer protocols, especially during hardforks.
EIP 1844 alters the cost of certain EVM Opcodes in and effort to make the network more resilient to spamming attacks.
EIP 2028 Increases the throughput of second layer solutions by reducing the cost of calling data in transactions.
EIP 2200 allows smart contracts to introduce increased functionality (including re-entry locks, and same-contract multi-send, among other improvements) by changing the cost calculation of data storage in the EVM
Though the upgrade was enacted successfully, there is still a bit of confusion. Top of the list is, certain changes in Ethereum’s code altering how funds move between DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations). This means these organizations have had to manually shift smart contracts from the old Ethereum chain to the new one.
Jorge Izquierdo, CTO of governance platform, Aragon stresses the need for blockchain developers to put a focus on backward compatibility, going forward.
“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.” – Izquierdo, to Coindesk
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