Ethereum’s Byzantium hard fork went into effect Monday morning, initiating the first phase of the platform’s latest protocol upgrade.
The Byzantium fork is considered to be the first half of Metropolis, a protocol upgrade that has been planned since 2015. It introduces nine ethereum improvement protocols (EIPs) designed to enhance the network’s privacy, scalability, and security. The second phase — Constantinople — does not yet have an official release date but is tentatively scheduled for 2018.
At 5:22 UTC, block 4,370,000 was mined, officially activating Byzantium. This was the fifth time the Ethereum network has undergone a hard fork, the ethereum price has appreciated more than 3,000% since the network’s last hard fork, which occurred in November 2016. Consequently, there was much more at stake — market cap-wise — than at any previous hard fork.
Developers cheered Byzantium’s activation, and the celebration was particularly satisfying considering the obstacles the community had to overcome during the days immediately preceding the fork. Most notably, testers were still finding software bugs as recently as October 14, leading to calls to postpone the hard fork. Moreover, although this fork was not contentious, there were fears that some miners would continue to mine on the old blockchain, potentially leading to a blockchain split and creating a new currency.
Nevertheless, the hard fork was activated as planned, and — so far — the transition appears to have been successful. At the time of writing, average block times had fallen below 20 seconds, and the network difficulty was adjusting back to normal. Further, no more blocks had been added to the legacy blockchain. That said, many node operators have yet to update to the latest software version. This morning, Parity Technologies wrote on Twitter that nearly 69% of all Parity nodes are still using a version with known bugs.
As expected, the ethereum price trended up in the days preceding Byzantium activation, and — despite a brief spike to $348 — it appears that traders may have fully priced in the upgrade. At present, the ethereum price is trading at a global average of $340, representing a single-day increase of 4%.