Ethereum Classic’s Upcoming Fork to Lower Block Time, Increase Mining Difficulty
In a bid to ensure mining of proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain Ethereum Classic (ETC) remains profitable, the digital currency’s core developer team is primed to fork its code on May 29, diffusing a so-called “time-bomb” in its code.
ETC to Undergo Hard Fork
Come block 5,900,000 on May 29, and Ethereum Classic developers shall “hard fork” the protocol, meaning updating the code and requiring all miners to upgrade their versions of ETC’s blockchain. The update serves to increase mining difficulty and subsequently reduce block rewards, ahead of a switch to a consensus algorithm.
The Ethereum community remains divided over the types of protocol that would best serve the greater good. While PoW systems are long considered robust, advocates of the Proof of Stake (PoS) mechanism draw attention to its efficient usage of energy.
The disagreement was confirmed by Anthony Lusardi, developer and director of ETC Cooperative, who earlier felt that the impending code update was the project’s attempt to gain larger relevance than its parent blockchain.
“Proof-of-work seems to be the most decentralized approach currently to achieving consensus from what the majority of the community feels.”
Lusardi added that newer algorithms like delegated PoS and byzantine fault tolerance are not enough to convince the cooperative body of the need to push for an immediate update, as the two consensus protocols could be “more centralized than proof-of-work.”
However, with time, the PoS systems have been better studied and explored, prompting the ETC community to vote for a soft fork before the “time bomb” explodes.
PoS Systems are Not the Best Bet
Lusardi now states that PoS systems have been better thought-out but are not as good as PoW systems in resisting centralization, as mining depends on continual changes in their hardware infrastructure, and PoS enables a participant to be entitled to an “economic majority,” which they can’t “ever stop from having.”
Cody Burns, an Ethereum Classic developer, echoes the thought:
“The entire premise is that you would put normal money into the system to buy a stake in it, and banks and large institutions have unfair amounts of capital compared to normal participants.”
Additional Surprises Unlikely
In the past, ‘forking’ is known to raise eyebrows and cause concerns amongst developers and community members alike, due to the potential network split if several miners refuse to update their code and continue with the pre-fork version of the blockchain; giving rise to a separate cryptocurrency.
However, Lusardi and Burns remain positive about the fork and claim that a majority of miners have upgraded to the new software version already. Forks on the ETC network, such as the ECIP 1017 proposal to limit the maximum supply of ether classic, have not been contentious in the past. A move away from Ethereum’s inflationary model to a more Bitcoin-esque monetary policy was completed in early 2018.
To this effect IOHK, an Ethereum Classic developer and blockchain company, released the Mantis V1.1 upgrade in May 2018, weeks before the fork takes place to ensure all miners have sufficient time to make the necessary change.
After the fork, developers expect the block time going to 14 seconds, down from the current 26 seconds, in addition to omitting the network’s mining difficulties.