Ethereum Istanbul Hard Fork 2019 - Latest Updates on Changes Approved

Anisa Batabyal
| 09 December, 2019 | 2 min

The developers of Ethereum have finally approved six codebase modifications (also known as Ethereum Improvement Proposals or EIP) for the backward-incompatible Istanbul hard fork. Istanbul Hard Fork will be activated in two different stages- the first stage will be implementing six EIPs, and the second phase will be implementing two major EIPs, which will happen in Q1 2020. As per the recent news, the testnet activation for Istanbul hard fork has been pushed to October 2nd, 2019 as the decision for the EIPs are under review.

The Core Developer of the Istanbul upgrade project, Peter Szilagyi on the two-part Istanbul structure:

Let us understand these two phases in details:

#1 First Stage

The first stage will be the eighth hard fork for Ethereum blockchain after the Constantinople hard fork, and the third upgrade in the Metropolis Version 1.3. Initially, the original date in the Ropsten testnet was August 14, but it got pushed as the developers needed time to finalize the EIPs. The major Ethereum clients Geth and Parity have only one week to integrate six EIPs (discussed below) and prepared to implement the new code in a testnet.

Tentative Istanbul Hard Fork Date (Stage 1)

As of now, September 4, 2019, has been considered by the core developer, Peter Szilagyi, which he thinks might get postponed once more and the ETH mainnet execution can happen in October. The other developers agreed that the block number and the targeted activation date could be determined in the next week in a meeting as per Istanbul hard fork news. The activation of the first phase will be the last important milestone before the activation of the mainnet.

EIPs To Be Implemented

You can refer here for the updates in the six EIPs to be decided, as they keep on getting withdrawn and updated as per the developers.

Two months back, the developers agreed on two EIPs out of thirty- EIP 2024 and EIP 1702:

  • EIP 2024: Add new pre-compiler for Blake2 to optimize the blockchain operations and make transactions less costly.
  • EIP 1702: Focused on smart contract optimization, created by Wei Tang, a developer at Parity Technologies.

Aimed Upgrade

This stage is focused on increasing the compatibility of the Ethereum blockchain with the Zcash network, which will enhance the platform’s chain interoperability with the privacy coin. It is aimed at securing the network from replay attacks (duplicate transaction attacks), which will increase efficiency. 

Like any other ETH hard fork with the Istanbul hard fork update, the miners must upgrade simultaneously causing a chain split in the network.

#2 Second Stage

The second stage will be the last hard fork before its transition to Version 2.0. This is scheduled for mainnet activation and will feature two big EIPs, which require much detailed testing and deliberation from the developers.

Istanbul hard Fork Date (Stage 2)

Q1 2020

EIPs To Be Planned

To Be Decided. The tentatively decided EIPs are mentioned here.

Aimed Upgrade

They are going to include Programmable Proof of Work (ProgPoW), a new kind of mining algorithm designed to close the efficiency gap available to the specialized ASICs.

Hudson Jameson, Ethereum Foundation Community Manager, said:

Ethereum Istanbul Hard Fork is Live

Finally, the eighth hard fork of Ethereum, i.e, Ethereum Istanbul Hard Fork is live, where three main changes have been improvised:

  • EIP 1344: Denial- of -Service (DDoS) attack resilience.
  • EIP 152: Interoperability with Equihashed Proof of Work cryptos like zcash.
  • EIP 1108,2028,2200: Gas costs.

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