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Valid Points: What to Expect When Ethereum 2.0 Undergoes Its First ‘Hard Fork’

Eth 2.0 is looking at its first hard fork this year. The Ethereum Foundation-backed research team is currently organizing schematics for a mid-2021 backward-incompatible change to the Beacon Chain, according to a Jan. 14 developer’s call. This hard fork is really not a hard fork in the traditional sense, Teku client project manager Ben Edgington pointed out. Rather, it’s a warmup before sharding and a merge of the Eth 1.x and Beacon Chain. The upgrade is likely to include the following code changes, although these changes have yet to be fully agreed upon:

Infrastructure for light client support through sync committees. Light clients enable verification of the chain without needing as much overhead as a typical validator rig. A new function, called balance_denominator, changing in-activity penalties against non-participating validators. The current penalty method is a denial-of-service (DOS) vector while the new function increases the chain’s efficiency, Eth 2.0 researcher Danny Ryan wrote on GitHub.

Rewards will be calculated over an epoch (similar to a block) instead of after the epoch closes as is currently done. Egington notes the change should help limit the number of incorrect attestations.

One additional feature that is being considered is the inclusion of the difficulty bomb, also known as the “Ice Age.” The difficulty bomb – which kicks into gear at pre-set block heights – is a mining adjustment mechanism originally added to the Eth 1.x blockchain in 2015. It makes mining incrementally more difficult over time in an effort to keep developers motivated to build Eth 2.0.

To date, the Ice Age has been postponed three times on the proof-of-work (PoW) Ethereum blockchain in the Byzantium (2017), Constantinople (2019) and Muir Glacier (2020) hard forks.

The decision to include or not include a difficulty adjustment feature like the Ice Age into Eth 2.0 itself comes down to how you see the Ethereum blockchain progressing after Eth 2.0 is complete, he said. Some want further innovation while some think ossification similar to Bitcoin’s blockchain is the way to go.

Valid Points: What to Expect When Ethereum 2.0 Undergoes Its First ‘Hard Fork’, CoinDesk, Jan 28

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