Proposed Ethereum Istanbul Hard Fork Combed With A Fine Tooth At Cat Herders Meeting


During a recent Ethereum Cat Herders meeting, the new Ethereum hard fork known as Istanbul was thoroughly discussed. The Ethereum community has been expecting the hard fork, which will hopefully come through eventually, sometime in October this year.

Ethereum is currently still the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap and is the top chain for smart contracts which is a direct pointer to how much expectation there is for Istanbul.

Programmatic Proof-of-Work (ProgPoW)

At the meeting discussions largely surrounded a few things including the difficulties being faced by core developers. Another major point thoroughly discussed is the Programmatic Proof-of-Work [ProgPoW]. This ProgPoW is designed by core developers to help cover deficiency between Ethereum ASIC miners and graphics processing units (GPU) by directly reducing the efficiency or need for ASIC mining. Many have argued that this is necessary to prevent a monopoly of ASIC hardware manufacturers.

Istanbul Might Be Released Without ProgPoW

At the preceding Ethereum Cat Herders meeting which happened in May, it was stated by Hudson Jameson that there’s a strong chance that the new ProgPoW update would not be ready by the time Istanbul is to be released. This, Hudson mentioned, was because of specific concerns about its audits. At the time, Hudson mentioned that other auditors were needed to carry out a more thorough audit of the hardware in question.

However, it would seem like not much has changed since then as auditing the ProgPoW still hasn’t begun. This is the major reason the ProgPoW probably shouldn’t be expected for Istanbul’s release in October.

As part of the discussion for the Istanbul hard fork, the Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) were also mentioned. The developers are apparently still assessing the different EIPs that were put forward for Istanbul. It was however noted that the gathering set for this discussion didn’t bear much fruit because a few of the very key players were absent and this made it almost impossible to decide on the strength of the EIP. At the moment, none of the EIPs have been authorized by the developers.

After this, the meeting then progressed by deliberating on the difficulties the developers could possibly be having as it relates to the final endorsement of the EIPs. One of the major issues here was the date of submission. According to Tim Beiko, because there was not enough specificity on this, most of the submitted EIPs came in on the very last date. After this, developers then moved on to the specific technicalities in the EIPs.

“We are supposed to have our implementation complete in more or less than one month, on July 19 and speaking for Pantheon, we have zero EIPs implemented because zero are marked as accepted. So if we get 10 that are marked as accepted five days before July 19, obviously that deadline will slip.”

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