There is indeed a lot of confidence in the view that the Ethereum blockchain is unlikely to split in the next hardfork on Monday.
For those who may not know, Ethereum is about to update its protocol with a range of changes that could improve the secure, cheaper and faster. These updates are part of the Byzantium hardfork that will happen at block 4,370,000.
Usually, when there is a hardfork, there is usually some concern as this could lead to a chain split. People are generally worried with this as these two competing chains then have different coins which creates confusion.
Nothing to Worry About
Given that the price of Ether seems to be rising and rising, people appear to be unfazed by the upcoming fork. Indeed, it seems as if they don’t think that the fork will lead to a chain split. This seems to also be reiterated by some of the Ethereum developers themselves.
Alex Van, who is one of the Ethereum developers said that he expects nothing to happen. He also brought up all of the previous hardforks where nothing appeared to happen either.
The only time that there was ever a contention in the hardfork occurred because of an emergency fork in the code last year. This was done when the DAO was hacked and a considerable amount of Ether was stolen.
Some of the miners continued mining on the original chain. This created a competing cryptocurrency called Ethereum classic. This still exists today although is worth much less than Ethereum proper.
Why the Optimism?
Some of the many reasons that people are optimistic about this update is because it has been in the works for quite some time and has been planned long in advance. It forms part of the Ethereum Metropolis roadmap that was laid out in 2015 as a means to scale the network.
The fork was also tested effectively on the Ethereum Rosten test network. There were no problems as everything moved forward as planned. Although there were some spam attacks that forced some developers onto their private networks. It largely worked effectively.
One of the Ethereum Improvement protocols that many people are interested to see implemented was the use of Zk-snarks. This would allow for Ethereum holders to send coins using technology that is in use with Z Cash.
Zk-snarks are zero knowledge proofs and can hide information about the transaction from the rest of the public blockchain. There is no doubt that this could be of benefit to some of Ethereum holders.
Another initiative was a decrease in the difficulty that is required to mine Ethereum as well as a drop in the reward for mining the blocks. This would have the benefit of increasing the transaction speed as well as reducing the cost.
Also, this is seen as the first move towards the implementation of Ethereum proof of stake mining. Officially called the Casper POS protocol, this will help make mining less centralised.
This is not to say that there are no dissenting voices. There are some participants such as miners who are not in favour for reducing the block reward. One can of course understand why they would have taken this position.
The protest against this move is from a movement called “Etherite”. They want to implement all of the proposed changes from the Byzantium hardfork but keep the mining rewards the same. They believe this change could turn the miners off of the new Ethereum chain.
One of the proponents of this, Dylan Young, is of the view that this reduction is not known by most of the miners and they merely take what is being given to them by the Ethereum developers.
This is indeed the sentiments that were echoed by a representative of a mining pool called Nanopool. He stated that the Block reward was now a secondary issue and that most of the control was in the hands of the Ethereum foundation.
If anyone was worried about the prospect that Etherite may gain momentum and threaten the Byzantium hardfork, they should rest easy. As is currently, there is only one forum post on Reddit and one Github contributor.
It seems though, that many miners have realised that although there is reduction in the block reward from 5 ETH to 2 ETH, the overall number of blocks that will be propagated will increase substantially with the difficulty reduction. Hence, the miners that continue to mine both chains may discover that they can make the same amount of money on both of the chains.
There is also the point that was raised about the difficulty bomb that is built into the Ethereum protocol. With this, the Ethereum developers can slow down the rate of Ethereum blocks that are created on its blockchain. This will convince users to move over to a new chain.
Unlike the contentious debate that there was over the Bitcoin hardfork, the Ethereum Byzantium hardfork was so far pretty orderly and well planned. Developers, users and even miners appear to be in agreement and are falling well in line.
This hardfork was a result of lots of planning and cohesion in the community. It is no doubt a great vote of confidence in the Etheruem project. We are therefore likely to see the price of Ether reaching new highs next week.