16 Januar 2019

Update: Hard Fork of Ethereum (ETH) Constantinople

Yara Ainsworth

Yara Ainsworth

Head of Marketing und Communications bei Crypto Finance AG

Über den Autor

Update, as of 26. February 2019: After the postponement of the Ethereum Hard Fork “Constantinople”, Hudson Jameson recently posted a new upgrade announcement on the Ethereum blog. The new Constantinople fork is set to occur at block number 7,280,000 (estimated to happen on Thursday, February 28, 2019). This time, an additional fork has also been scheduled, which will happen on the same block. Since the original changes of Constantinople have already been applied to test networks, a further fork is required. This second fork, called “St. Petersburg”, aims to reverse some of the initial changes of Constantinople.

Ethereum has had to delay the “Constantinople” hard fork that had been scheduled for block 7,080,000. It should happen in less than 24 hours. Aside from the obvious reputation damage that this causes (the fork has been delayed previously), already after the upgrade of the testnet went far from smoothly, this introduces major problems in the infrastructure of exchanges, merchants, and users. They will need to either go back to an older version prior to the introduction of the fork (which involves necessary testing, since downgrades might possibly not go so smoothly without resyncing the blockchain, which can take several weeks), or upgrade to one version of the node software that is being pushed out as “emergency releases” by the two major implementations; geth and parity.

The full testing of these releases by themselves and through the exchanges and merchants might not be possible with the usual standards prior to the necessary update. But at least parity decided not to provide a minimal change (e.g. changing the block height for the activation to some number in the very distant future, thus deactivating the fork but not touching any logic), but ship other tweaks and bug fixes together with that release.

All in all, this renders an upgrade that was thought to be uncontroversial with a low, but non-zero chance of leading to a chain split. Not by malice or politics, but simply because some players might not be ready to support the non-fork and their node trying to execute the hard fork regardless. Such a fork is unlikely to persist, but might manifest in prolonged downtime of services.

At Crypto Storage, our nodes will follow the “official” recommendation of geth and parity, choosing the least intrusive of the available options. As such, both of our nodes will be prepared for one non-forked chain coming out of the situation. We take frequent snapshots of the full blockchain in our infrastructure, which would allow us to set up a fully synced and ready infrastructure for a possible forked chain very quickly, most likely within a day. So no interruption of operation is expected in the very likely case that the non-fork stays the sole chain. Should the chain split, operation on both parts will be possible quickly as well.

Regarding the price of ETH – we are a bit surprised about the rather muted price action overnight. But keep your risk in check as there is still plenty of event risk out there, which could move the price sharply.

Download full updated article: Ethereum ETH Hard Fork Constantinople