Will More Hard Forks Benefit The Ethereum Network?

Hard Fork is a significant term in the crypto community. Any network that goes through a hard fork, significantly alters its nature and gathers a lot of attention from the community.

Recently, in a bi-weekly meeting, a group of ethereum’s veteran open-source developers were discussing on the same for the Ethereum network. The developers were discussing how a hard-fork can be enacted in any system for as frequently as every three months.

Team lead at the Ethereum Foundation Péter Szilágyi however believes that three months might be a little too quick to see any potential turnaround, explaining:

“As a [software] client developer if you’re only job is to implement hard forks and do them then three months is fine but usually clients require a lot of maintenance. So, if you start doing three month hard forks it will essentially take all the time away from general maintenance and performance improvements.”

Now there were various conflicting opinions that were aired during this meeting. Ethereum Foundation security lead Martin Hoste Swende is of the opinion that while making changes every three months is not desirable, one can always make minor changes in specific cases on a short notice, provided it is agreed upon unanimously. He said:

“The idea would not be to schedule a hard fork every three months but see if feature X is finished and there exist test cases and it is implemented in all clients. If so, then we can hard fork pretty soon.”

Some people at the meeting believe that right now Ethereum is not in the position to conduct frequent hard forks. Ethereum Foundation advisor Greg Colvin particularly stated that most teams building ethereum software clients do not currently have “the right person” to execute a hard fork which would include “setting up testnets, running test cases, doing testing” among other responsibilities.

Fredrik Harryson, CTO of Parity Technologies, reminded everyone that even a longer timeline of six months for a pre planned ethereum hard fork has never been achieved.

“There’s a couple things we probably need to automate in order to do [shorter hard forks] really well. A lot of the time that goes into the hard fork is not just making the code. It’s everything that goes around,” said Harryson.

He believes that the team does not have enough money to do this.

Now the question is, does ethereum network really need significant, longer-term changes? There is already a ethereum 2.0 which is set to be launched in the market. However, what more can be done to improve the network?

The next hard fork will be called Istanbul and EIP 615 is one of the five proposals which is being considered for inclusion in that hard fork. It wishes to introduce improvements to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) which is responsible for executing all smart contracts on the platform.

Authors of EIP 615 Colvin, Brooklyn Zelenka, Pawel Bylic and Christina Reitwiessner have written that:

“The design of the EVM makes low-gas-cost, high-performance execution difficult. We propose to move forward with proposals to resolve these problems by tightening the security guarantees and pushing the performance limits of the EVM.”

We are now left to see how much change will the current ethereum network go through to emerge as ethereum 2.0.