The Ethereum blockchain project is alive and working hard on improving the network.
The project is committed to keeping Ethereum’s technology up with the times, as it’s shown in the past by issuing four hard forks (upgrades to the network). Those have been Frontier (July 2015), Homestead (March 2016), Byzantium (October 2017) and Constantinople (February 28, 2019).
The next upgrade is scheduled for deployment five months from now (in October), and it’s called Istanbul. It will include a decision about the ProgPow protocol, among other updates.
Then, after Istanbul, al the efforts will focus on Ethereum’s full refurbishment: Ethereum 2.0 or Serenity.
Serenity will revolutionize the Ethereum platform from its very foundations. It will change the current Proof of Work protocol to Proof of Stake, among other enhancements. Serenity aims to improve the network’s scalability, efficiency, and decentralization. A new virtual machine will also be deployed, which will be more attractive for a broader range of developers because it will support more coding languages and faster code execution on the blockchain.
Ethereum 2.0 will also introduce support for Shard Chains (more on that later) and other new kinds of chains that will enable privacy, permission, and governance models built on unique user needs.
The road ahead for ETH
The upgrade to Serenity won’t happen overnight but in four distinct stages, that will start this year and will continue for three more years until the network is fully upgraded. The roadmap looks like this:
Phase 0: it’s estimated to start in 2019. Phase 0 will see the new Beacon chain deployed on the network, which is the blockchain that will use the PoS protocol. It will coexist with Ethereum, and it will be connected to it.
Phase 1: this is when Shard Chains appear to interoperate with the Beacon chain. These chains will support higher transaction speeds and instant finality in transactions. Thus the network’s scalability will improve dramatically. Shard chains will manage the exchange and transactions of account data. This will happen in 2020.
Phase 2: scheduled for 2020 and 2021 this is when the new Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) appears, which will be improved through the Ethereum Web Assembly (eWASM). The new virtual machine will execute code more quickly and support more programming languages. During this phase, there will also be an increase in the network’s security through protocol standardization.
Phase 3: the last step will start in 2022 and will continue indefinitely. It’s all about the continued improvement of the network’s decentralization, security, and scalability.
Ethereum’s position as the cryptosphere’s premier decentralized applications and smart contracts platform has been seriously threatened over the last twelve months by Tron and EOS among others. Users have been complaining about scalability issues and gas prices for ages as well. So it’s good to see that Ethereum’s leadership has finally seen the writing on the wall and it’s trying to adapt to the new realities.
The process will be long for sure, but according to Joseph Lubin (one of Ethereum’s co-founders reputed to be Ether’s largest holder), it will take only from 18 to 24 months for the network to be a thousand times more scalable than it’s now. Also, Ether tokens will be able to move from the old chain to the new one.
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