After a long wait, the Byzantium upgrade was carried out in the early hours of the morning. This is the first step of the Metropolis Hard Fork of the Ethereum network.

For a long time he had been announced, now the first part of Metropolis is finally here. At 7:22 German time, or more precisely, with the mines of the 4.370,000 block of the Ethereum blockchain, Byzantium was initiated. The first day the Hard Fork went smoothly, so that a successful upgrade of the entire Ethereum network can now be talked about. Led by the two largest clients Geth (Go Ethereum) and Parity, all nodes have installed the necessary software update to support Byzantium. This sets the course for a closed further development in the direction of the Metropolis.

After Frontier and Homestead, Metropolis is the third of four stages in the progressive evolution of Ethereum. The upgrade itself is divided into two steps: Byzantium and Constantinople. Both involve performing a hard fork. Byzantium, the Hard Fork, which has now taken place, introduces the third development stage. Constantinople, for which no date has yet been announced, is to complete the Metropolis upgrade. Originally the Metropolis was already announced for the end of September.

What does Metropolis mean for Ethereum?

The innovation, which is likely to have the most impact in the short term, is the resetting of the Difficulty Bomb. This pre-programmed algorithm ensures that the mining difficulty of ethers increases exponentially over time and serves solely to keep the pressure on the network high and to ensure a hard fork equal to a systemupgrade within a predetermined time window. As a result of the reset, the algorithm has not been lifted, but merely postponed by 18 months, which is to ensure the activation of Constantinople, the second metropolis Hard Fork, during this period. At the same time, the number of ethers emitted per milled block was reduced from 5 to 3.

On the whole, the upgrade also introduces a number of technical innovations in the Ethereum network, which are summarized under the heading “Ethereum Improvment Proposal” (EIP). In addition to the optimization of the Smart Contracts, the use of so-called sk-Snarks is particularly relevant. The sk-Snarks are a variant of Zero-Knowledge-Proofs, an application that makes the exchange of tokens safer. The sk-Snarks are already used with Zcash.
How does it go from here?

It is also interesting to know which upgrade was not done by Byzantium. Thus the change from proof-of-work to prof-of-stake mechanism has been postponed to the activation of Constantinople. This is also under pressure to activate the second part of Metropolis in a timely manner in order to complete the upgrade. The Ethereum network now has 18 months.

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