Constantinople, ethereum's next system-wide upgrade, is coming soon to a node near you.
Finalized August 31, Constantinople includes five different ethereum improvement proposals (EIPs). Once released on ethereum, the proposals will permanently alter the blockchain with a host of new backwards-incompatible upgrades.
This means that nodes — the network of computers that run ethereum software — must either update together with the whole system or continue running as a separate blockchain entity.
More formally known as a "hard fork," system-wide upgrades have instigated a fair amount of drama in the past. Most notably, in the case that a portion of users don't agree with the change, this may result in two different versions of the same blockchain running concurrently.
As dramatic as these things can get (having formerly resulted in a competing cryptocurrency named ethereum classic), most of the upgrades in Constantinople won't be noticeable to average users. Indeed, described by independent developer Lane Rettig, the upcoming ethereum hard fork won't feature any "big changes" for end users at all.
Characterized as primarily a "maintenance and optimization upgrade" by Rettig, Constantinople features small, yet highly technical, ethereum improvements to network efficiency and fee structure, as well as, upgrades that pave the way to ethereum's hotly anticipated scaling roadmap.
Additionally, the hard fork includes changes to ethereum's underlying economic policy, and the delay of the difficulty bomb, a piece of code programmed to activate what is known as the ethereum "ice age" in which new block creation on the network eventually slows to a complete halt.
As detailed by CoinDesk, the economic change has been the cause of contention, with conflicting views expressed by ethereum stakeholders in the months prior to the upgrade.
At press time, anxiety is continuing to brew among the networks miners that are faced w...