January 15th 2019 Update — The Ethereum Constantinople hard fork has been postponed due to potential vulnerabilities. Visit the Ethereum blog for more information.
On January 16th 2019 the Ethereum blockchain will undergo a hard fork, implementing several significant upgrades to modernize and improve scalability of the blockchain. The Ethereum Constantinople hard fork is a key step in the roadmap before Ethereum 2.0.
The software upgrades are comprised of five Ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs) focused on improving the efficiency and lessening the costs associated with producing Ethereum transactions. The fork is expected to take place at block 7,080,000 — approximately 4:45am UTC based on current estimates.
Unlike other hard forks, Constantinople is not a contentious fork for the Ethereum community. Consensus around activation of the EIPs appears to be reached for a seamless transition to the new, upgraded chain. We do not predict that the old chain will survive with significant hashpower.
That being said, at BitGo we treat hard forks carefully — even those that appear to have a majority consensus. To date, our methods for handling hard forks have kept client funds safe; during the Bitcoin SV hard fork in November clients funds were secured automatically with replay protection.
We will be suspending deposits and withdrawals for ETH and ERC-20s during the hard fork. BitGo clients should expect approximately 30 minutes of downtime before and after the fork to have confidence that transactions can be conducted safely.
In preparation for the upcoming Constantinople upgrades, our Ethereum infrastructure has been updated. Clients running older software may be exposed to risk; they’ll see a version of their own chain which may have different sets of confirmed transactions.
EIP 145 will improve the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) by adding native bitwise shift instructions. This will decrease the gas cost of this operation from 35 gas to just 3.
EIP 1014 will introduce off-chain transactions, similar to what Bitcoin’s Lightning Network provides, significantly improving the performance and throughput of Ethereum. Previously, Ethereum contracts had to be deployed on-chain before you could use them. Now, you can provide the address which corresponds to the contract you want to deploy, and the recipient can pay to the contract before you deploy. This means that developers are able to generate receive addresses without paying the deployment fee of the receive address until they want to spend from it. This EIP is also allows for certain off-chain state channel commitments to be possible without requiring a deployment of said state channel.
EIP 1052 provides a new EVM opcode that allows contracts to more efficiently verify another contract’s bytecode. By checking the contract by its hash (keccak256 hash of the contract’s code), the verification becomes much more cost effective.
EIP 1234 reduces the block reward from 3 ETH to 2 ETH and delays the difficulty bomb for 12 months as part of the transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. The block time should remain at about 15 seconds.
EIP 1283 reduces gas costs for the contract storage opcode, enabling new usage for contract storage. This upgrade helps the Ethereum blockchain scale by allowing transactions to process faster and increasing adoption of decentralized applications by lessening their implementation costs.
If you have any questions regarding the hard fork, please contact us.