Ethereum’s Istanbul Upgrade Gets Two New Improvement Proposals

Two new Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) are being included in Istanbul, the next major upgrade for ethereum.

These two were chosen from nearly 30 EIPs reviewed by ethereum developers during their bi-weekly call on June 21. Developers will continue to discuss the other EIPs not approved during the call.

The Istanbul upgrade is tentatively scheduled for release on the ethereum mainnet in October.

New hash function precompile

The first of these two EIPs is EIP 2024, also known as EIP 131 on some documents. It adds a new precompile for a new hash function called Blake2 to the ethereum virtual machine.

Blake2 is reportedly faster at verifying and authenticating blockchain data compared to other hash functions such as SHA-3 on ethereum.

Other crypto projects like the privacy coin zcash and the domain-name platform Handshake are already using various strands of Blake2. The precompile that EIP 2024 adds is for a version of Blake2 called Blake2B.

Blake2B means that we could interop with zcash on the ethereum main network,” said James Hancock, who is one of EIP2024’s three authors. “Wrapped ZEC within ethereum, [shielded] transactions, a whole lot of cool stuff.

Easier upgrades for virtual machines

The other EIP being included in Istanbul is EIP 1702. This EIP, which was authored by Parity Technologies developer Wei Tang, aims to make upgrading smart contracts go smoother.

EIP 1702 suggests the introduction of a new hard fork methodology called account revisioning. This new methodology is expected to make the process of adding new virtual machines to the ethereum network as well as upgrading the ones already in place easier.

By allowing account versioning, we can execute different virtual machines for contracts created at different times,” Tang explained. “This allows breaking features to be implemented while making sure existing contracts work as expected.