According to an official Ethereum blog post on Feb. 22, Ethereum’s (ETH) next two network upgrades, referred to as Constantinople and St. Petersburg, are scheduled to take place this week.
The updates are scheduled to happen at Ethereum’s block 7,280,000, expected to be mined on February 28. It can still be delayed by 1-2 days given the unpredictable nature of the mining.
The reason for making it two hard forks is because of the first Constantinople network upgrade that was postponed. There will now be two protocol upgrade on the same block number to fix issues on various ethereum test network such as Ropsten.
Constantinople will bring the platform various efficiency improvements, not to mention the delay of the so-called “difficulty bomb” & the decrease of Ethereum’s block reward.
The difficulty bomb is a feature meant to prevent miners from continuing their activity on the chain after Ethereum’s switch to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. Ethereum developers had to delay the difficulty bomb to “make sure we don’t freeze the blockchain before proof of stake is ready & implemented” due to the continuous postponement of PoS implementation.
The network update in the pipeline is ‘St. Petersburg’, is meant to delete a previous update, Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1283, from Ethereum’s test networks after the previous update was caught in security issues.
The Constantinople upgrade is thus set to delay the difficulty bomb — also referred to as the “ice age” — for approximately 12 months. To compensate for the easier mining process, Constantinople will have an additional feature called “thirdening”: a reduction of the reward for every miner block from 3 to 2 ETH. This is being done to ensure the smooth transition from PoW (Proof of Work) to PoS (Proof of Stake) protocol for Ethereum.
The concept behind the upgrades is to improve the Ethereum network in some fundamental ways to act as a bridge between the current build and the planned “Ethereum 2.0” build called “Serenity” (which will occur over the next few years).