Final countdown to Ethereum’s Constantinople upgrade – here’s what you need to know

It has happened! The Ethereum Constantinople/St. Petersburg upgrade successfully completed at 19:52 UTC on the 28th February 2019. Here’s everything you need to know about the hard fork.

It was originally scheduled for mid-January

The upgrade was initially meant to take place in mid-January, but shortly before it was going to go live, Zurich-based blockchain security firm ChainSecurity discovered a critical bug one of the upgrade components.

It found that EIP 1283, which was due to deliver a better way to monetise data storage changes, could leave smart contracts vulnerable to attacks. The Ethereum Foundation therefore decided to delay the hard fork, which was originally meant to be activated in mid-January.

The St. Petersburg moniker is the Ethereum Foundation’s work-around for the bug

Because a number of the Ethereum test networks were upgraded to Constantinople before the bug was discovered, the Ethereum Foundation was in a difficult position because it couldn’t roll back the upgrade on the test networks.

Therefore, it decided on a work-around and there are actually two upgrades happening on the same block, one after the other.

The first upgrade will roll out the original January Constantinople upgrade, with five EIPs (Ethereum Improvement Proposal) including the one with the bug.

Then there will be a second upgrade, St. Petersburg, which will roll back the buggy EIP 1283.

There are four changes left in the upgrade

There are four EIPs that will be commited to the Ethereum mainnet. These are:

  • EIP 145 – a more cost-effective and overall efficient approach to processing information (by adding bitwise shifting operators to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM);
  • EIP 1014: a better approach to accommodating network scaling solutions such as off-chain transactions;
  • EIP 1052 – an improvement on how contracts are processed;
  • EIP1234 – a 12-month delay of difficulty bomb; reduce mining rewards

Miners are going to lose out as a result of this upgrade

One of the changes has been dubbed the “thirdening.” This is because it will result in a third reduction in mining rewards – the “Block Reward Adjustment” will reduce block rewards paid to miners from 3 ETH to 2TH.

It has led to high volatility in mining difficulty and we expect a sharp drop in difficulty after the upgrade, just as  happened in the last reduction in block reward in October 2017. This is because miners will seek other cryptocurrencies with a higher reward:

Daily block rewards have already hit year-lows in anticipation:

The Ethereum Foundations has put a positive spin on the change in block reward – it expects a big reduction in sell pressure on ETH.

Expect delays on exchanges

Exchanges are prepared to support the upgrade, and have made announcements to that effect – such as this one from Binance. However, they are warning of potential delays around the time of the upgrade. Coinbase in an article said: “Upon commencement of the upgrade, for security and technical  purposes, we will temporarily pause sending and receiving ETH across all of our trading platforms until the upgrade completes and we confirm security of the network. ”

17:28 UTC Update: Reports are that 60% of the Ethereum mainnet nodes are already prepared and ready with 3 hours to go:

19:52 UTC Update: It has happened! The Ethereum Constantinople/St. Petersburg upgrade successfully completed at 19:52 UTC on the 28th February 2019. Ethereum price is stable for now, although expect some volatility when exchanges reopen for trading.