The Byzantium hard fork was geared towards making Ethereum's smart contracts suitable for usage in the commercial space and to increase the speed of the transactions with an enhancement in the security on its blockchain
The Byzantium hard fork was the fifth and a significant upgrade to Ethereum's blockchain. The main purpose behind its creation was aimed at improving the confidentiality, stability, and resilience of Ethereum, in line with the nine EIPs - Ethereum Improvement Protocols.
Fundamental modifications to the software protocol are referred to as "forks" in blockchain development. Soft forks are backward-compatible, thus as long as the majority of nodes update to the new software, the network remains intact. Hard forks, on the other hand, are incompatible with older software versions, so if any node operator does not update to the newest version, the blockchain will divide into two distinct pathways.
The importance of the Byzantium hard fork in the Ethereum ecosystem cannot be underestimated. Its upgrade was implemented back in October 2017 as a part of Metropolis - the 3rd upgrade of ETH's network, as outlined by Ethereum's official roadmap.
Previously, transactions in the Merkle tree were referenced as a root parameter, however, the Byzantium hard fork upgraded this feature by implementing the transaction status communication protocol in consecutive blocks. Doing this allowed Ethereum’s network to overcome the unavailability of parallel processing to speed up chain creations. It also allowed the implementation of linear transaction sequences which means that blocks in the Byzantium hard fork can execute several transactions by simply reporting success or failure. This feature enables the Ethereum network to execute transactions more quickly than before.
The Byzantium development contains four native ethereum contracts that contain the code meant to reduce the power needs for implementing zk-snarks, zero-knowledge encryption, which is rapidly becoming the privacy standard for future cryptocurrency transactions.
Zero-knowledge proofs are computationally demanding calculations that allow systems to show that they have the necessary cryptographic keys without revealing the contents of those keys. The new contracts will ensure that computation-intensive activities are executed directly on the CPU rather than through the Ethereum client, resulting in a reduction in total power consumption.
Block rewards are reduced from five ether per block to three ether per block with the Byzantium reward. This decrease is in accordance with Ethereum's long-term goal of eliminating block rewards in favor of a Proof of Stake mechanism.
The Ethash mechanism, which is a modification of bitcoin's Proof of Work algorithm, is presently being used by Ethereum. A shift to Proof of Stake, which is utilized or adapted in some manner by numerous cryptos, including Dash and Cardano, may help speed up transactions on the Ethereum blockchain once again.
The Byzantium fork aims to pave the way for Ethereum and smart contracts to become more widely used. Following the announcement of the hard fork, the price of the cryptocurrency skyrocketed. Since the Byzantium implementation on the Ethereum network, the total transactions on ETH have surpassed those of BTC. This speaks well for the broad use of smart contracts in the future.
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