Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA)
In March 2017, various blockchain start-ups, research groups, and Fortune 500 companies announced the creation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) with 30 founding members. By May, the nonprofit organization had 116 enterprise members—including ConsenSys, CME Group, Cornell University’s research group, Toyota Research Institute, Samsung SDS, Microsoft, Intel, J. P. Morgan, Cooley LLP, Merck KGaA, DTCC, Deloitte, Accenture, Banco Santander, BNY Mellon, ING, and National Bank of Canada.By July 2017, there were over 150 members in the alliance, including recent additions MasterCard, Cisco Systems, Sberbank and Scotiabank.
Several codenamed prototypes of the Ethereum platform were developed by the Ethereum Foundation, as part of their Proof-of-Concept series, prior to the official launch of the Frontier network. “Olympic” was the last of these prototypes, and public beta pre-release. The Olympic network provided users with a bug bounty of 25,000 Ether for stress testing the limits of the Ethereum blockchain. “Frontier” marked the tentative experimental release of the Ethereum platform in July 2015.
Since the initial launch, Ethereum has undergone several planned protocol upgrades, which are important changes affecting the underlying functionality and/or incentive structures of the platform.
Protocol upgrades are accomplished by means of a hard fork.
Difficulty Bomb and The Ice Age
The Ethereum Difficulty bomb is the difficulty of the blockchain mining algorithm puzzle which began increasing in November 2016, from block 200,000. The onset of the Difficulty Bomb is referred to as Ethereum’s Ice Age, as the Ethereum network started the transition from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS). A difficulty bomb was scheduled in February 2019 but was pushed back by developers.
The DAO event
In 2016 a decentralized autonomous organization called The DAO, a set of smart contracts developed on the platform, raised a record US$150 million in a crowdsale to fund the project. The DAO was exploited in June when US$50 million in Ether were taken by an unknown hacker. The event sparked a debate in the crypto-community about whether Ethereum should perform a contentious “hard fork” to reappropriate the affected funds. As a result of the dispute, the network split in two. Ethereum (the subject of this article) continued on the forked blockchain, while Ethereum Classic continued on the original blockchain.The hard fork created a rivalry between the two networks.
After the hard fork related to The DAO, Ethereum subsequently forked twice in the fourth quarter of 2016 to deal with other attacks. By the end of November 2016, Ethereum had increased its DDoS protection, de-bloated the blockchain, and thwarted further spam attacks by hackers.
Development is underway for a major upgrade to the Ethereum platform, known as Ethereum 2.0.
The Ethereum 2.0 upgrade (also known as Serenity) is designed to be launched in three phases:
“Phase 0” will create the Beacon Chain, a proof-of-stake blockchain that will serve as the backbone of Ethereum 2.0
“Phase 1” will create shard chains and connect them to the Beacon Chain
“Phase 2” will implement state execution in the shard chains.The current Ethereum 1.0 chain is expected to become one of the shards of Ethereum 2.0.
Ethereum 2.0 has five main design goals:
Minimize complexity by simplifying the Ethereum blockchain, even at the cost of efficiency.
Improve up-time and keep the Ethereum network live during major network splits.
Ensure longevity by building Ethereum 2.0 with elements which are either quantum secure or can be easily swapped out for quantum secure replacements when available.
Increase security by using design techniques which allow a large number of validators to secure the network by staking their ETH holdings.
Reduce barriers to entry, making it possible for a typical laptop to process or validate shards.
Ethereum 2.0 “Phase 0” the Beacon Chain is expected to go live in 2020