4 Key Points about the upcoming Ethereum Hard Fork

4 Key Points about the upcoming Ethereum Hard Fork

December 5, 2019

First, remind me, what is a Hard Fork?

Generally, a blockchain fork is the point where a particular blockchain diverges into one of two potential paths forward. This particular fork though is part of an update to Ethereum.

Any software needs constant updates to fix issues or increase performance. In the world of crypto, those updates are done through forks.

Since cryptocurrencies are effectively decentralized networks, all participants in the network — known as nodes — need to follow the same rules in order to work together properly. That set of rules is known as a “protocol.”

A hard fork involves some sort of update or change to the protocol.

What is the Istanbul hard fork?

The Istanbul hard fork is a planned upgrade/change to the Ethereum blockchain.

It is the 8th Ethereum hard fork, and is one of the many hard forks of Ethereum 1.x that will take place before Serenity (ETH 2.0), Ethereum’s transition from its current proof of work consensus mechanism towards a proof of stake consensus.

What’s involved in Istanbul?

Istanbul brings upgrades that will:

  • Align the costs of opcodes with their computational costs and improve denial-of-service attack resilience
  • Make layer 2 solutions based on SNARKs and STARKs work better.
  • Enable Ethereum and Zcash to work together.
  • Allow for more creative uses of smart contract capabilities.


EIP-152: Adds Blake2 compression function F precompile. This EIP will enable the BLAKE2b hash function and other higher-round 64-bit BLAKE2 variants to run cheaply on the EVM, allowing easier interoperability between Ethereum and Zcash as well as other Equihash-based PoW coins.

EIP-1108: Reduce alt_bn128 precompile gas costs because elliptic curve arithmetic precompiles are currently overpriced. Re-pricing the precompiles would greatly assist a number of privacy solutions and scaling solutions on Ethereum.

EIP-1344: Currently, there is no specification for how chain ID is set for a particular network and instead relies on choices made manually by the client implementers and the chain community. This EIP proposes to use the chain ID to prevent replay attacks between different chains and it would be beneficial to have the same possibility inside smart contracts when handling signatures, especially in regards to Layer 2 signature schemes.

EIP-1884: The rapid growth of the Ethereum state has caused certain opcodes to be more resource-intensive than they were previously. Therefore, this EIP reprices certain opcodes, to obtain a good balance between gas expenditure and resource consumption.

EIP-2028: Calling on-chain data requires paying gas on the Ethereum network. Part of the EIP will reduce the gas cost from its current value of 68 gas per byte to 16 gas per byte which will help increase the bandwidth as more data can fit into a single block.

EIP-2200: Provides a structured definition of net gas metering changes for SSTORE opcode, enabling new usages for contract storage, and reducing excessive gas costs where it doesn’t match how most implementation works.

Source: https://eth.wiki/en/roadmap/istanbul

What’s next?

There are a list of scheduled Ethereum hard forks after Istanbul as part of ETH 1.x, which is the comprehensive set of upgrades to the Ethereum mainnet intended for near-term adoption. More information about Ethereum 1.x and the team behind its continued improvements and upgrades can be found here: https://docs.ethhub.io/ethereum-roadmap/ethereum-1.x/

Do you have more questions about this Ethereum fork and its impact on custody of your digital assets?

Check in with Hex Trust, providing institutional custody for digital assets.

Ethereum Istanbul Hard Fork Countdown Clock: https://etherscan.io/block/countdown/9069000

About Hex Trust

Hex Trust is the Asian leader in enterprise-grade custody for digital assets. Led by innovators from the institutional financial services space, Hex Trust has built a proprietary platform that delivers a modern custody solution for financial institutions, asset managers, and corporations to safely and efficiently operate in the blockchain ecosystem. ZeroKey(TM), a proprietary technology, enables seamless transacting and fast access to assets stored on multiple blockchains while maintaining the highest levels of security of cold storage solutions. As a registered Trust Company under the Hong Kong Trust Ordinance and holding a Trust or Company Service Provider (TCSP) license under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Hex Trust offers a truly end-to-end digital asset servicing solution. Visit www.hextrust.com to learn more.

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