Ether (ETH) has surged to a new All-Time High of US $2,318 just hours before the expected Berlin Hard Fork. Recording gains of over 1300% over the past year and being home to the thriving phenomena of Decentralised Finance (DeFi) and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Ethereum continues to establish itself as a highly regarded crypto and ecosystem.
However, one of the most anticipated developments for the network this year is its scheduled activation of the Berlin Hard Fork on block 12,244,000, expected to occur on 14 April 2021.
The Berlin Hard Fork is one of the two hard forks slated to happen this year and can be seen as a stepping stone for the Ethereum Network’s Serenity or Ethereum 2.0 – the network’s move towards from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake.
Despite Ethereum’s undoubted success so far, persistent concerns regarding the network’s transaction fees have been a major contention. Many within the Ethereum community hold out hope for a solution to this problem.
What is the Berlin Hard Fork and what does it entail?
Ethereum Network upgrades usually involve Ethereum Improvement Proposals or (EIPs) which can include changes in protocol specifications, contract standards and so on. Anybody can suggest EIPs but it is the community that decides whether it will be adopted.
There are a total of 4 EIPs that will be injected with the Berlin upgrade.
Here’s a simplified breakdown of the 4 EIPs:
Adjustment of Gas Price
This aims to lower gas price when it comes to Modular exponentiation (ModExp) - which is an important function for many cryptographic functions and is expensive to carry out. Essentially, the EIP will promote the use of a broader range of cryptographic operations for Ethereum smart contracts which should lower price.
This aims to adjust gas prices by increasing certain gas costs. The EIP is co-authored by Vitalik Buterin and Martin Swende. Specifically, operations that access memory have traditionally been cheap which makes it more vulnerable to cyber attacks like DoS (Denial of Service). With this EIP, attacks like this will optimistically be minimised.
Introduction of New Transaction Types
This aims to define a new transaction type. This EIP solves the issue of requiring backward compatibility with other Ethereum transactions, by introducing an envelope which enables support for multiple transaction types.
This aims to add a transaction type which contains an access list, a list of addresses and storage keys that the transaction plans to access and it also mitigates some of the gas cost increases introduced by EIP-2929.
👉 Read here for the full technical breakdown of the Berlin Hard Fork.
What’s next after Berlin?
The Hard forks are not over and Berlin’s upgrade is meant to pave way for the London Hard Fork — expected to happen in July 2021. The EIPs chosen for the London Hard Fork are still undergoing testing and were said to include a total of six EIPs.
While exact developments for the future of Ethereum are yet to be fleshed out, with the amount of traction it is getting it is safe to say that exciting things are coming!
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