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Istanbul hardfork on the Ethereum network and the Proof-of-Work protocol

03/14/2019
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  • istanbul_hardfork _ethereum
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After the completion of the Constantinople update, the Ethereum team will further develop the network. The next hardfork called Istanbul should be held in mid-May. And now, developers are deciding the need to integrate the EIP 1057 protocol into it, which optimizes mining according to the ProgPoW rule.

A controversial moment in hardfork Istanbul

Among the developers, there is an almost unanimous desire to add the EIP 1057 protocol to it the next time the network is updated. It will allow cutting off professional ASIC equipment from the mining procedure and make the project more decentralized. However, after a series of setbacks with hardforks, Constantinople has shown extreme caution here.

Constantinople update could not be activated twice due to technical problems. At first, it was scheduled for October 2018, then postponed to January 2019. And only at the end of February did it finally turn out to hold this hardfork.

In the coming days, a meeting will be held at which a decision will be made on the inclusion of EIP 1057 in the hardfork Istanbul. It will depend on the outcome of the current audit, where possible vulnerabilities may be identified.

What is Proof-of-Stake and what is it for?

The Ethereum team is concerned with the problem of mining decentralization. To maintain the performance of the blockchain, computational powers are needed, which are the miners. Initially, these were fans and enthusiasts, on their own computers and video cards extracting Ethereum.

With the advent of professional ASIC equipment, the situation has radically changed. They practically supplanted private miners, making the process unprofitable. A PC cannot compete with ASIC in performance, and energy costs and increased complexity have made private coin mining unprofitable. As a result, followed by a massive outflow of small miners.

This makes the network vulnerable to large pool activity. In addition, the threat of "attack 51%" hangs over Ethereum. Although the likelihood of such a development is small, it exists and interferes with stable development.

EIP 1057 criticism and possible actions

Not all developers from the Ethereum team are convinced of the need to launch ProgPoW right now. Not only can it add technical difficulties to Istanbul hardforks, its effectiveness also raises certain doubts.

Cryptocurrency team Monero traditionally conducts hardforks to get rid of ASIC miners, but after a few weeks, their share in the total hash rate again rises to 80-90%. There are risks that workarounds will also be found for the Ethereum blockchain.

The Ethereum team is now awaiting the result of the audit. If it does not reveal possible problems, most likely a section with an EIP update will appear in the Istanbul hardfork. But some team members believe that it’s not worth stopping work anyway. Since the EIP 1057 section comes as a separate element, it can be deleted directly before hardfork.

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