Layman’s Guide to Ethereum’s Four Major Development Phases
As of September 2017, Ethereum is the second largest currency in terms of market capitalization.
Ethereum is developed by the Ethereum Project. It is an all-encompassing name for the platform used to build smart contracts, distributed applications (DApps), and related open source software projects. The beta version was released in July 2015.
This article will give a brief summary of the key four developmental stages.
Reference: What is Ethereum?
The Ethereum Foundation has a name for each of the development stages:
Phase One: Frontier
Frontier was the initial release of the Ethereum network, which went live in July 2015. The release offered a minimal framework, although it did enable more technologically savvy developers to release their own apps, as well as accounting for mining and development of exchanges.
Frontier was successful – no major bugs – so the foundation moved on to the next update, Homestead.
Phase Two: Homestead
Homestead was planned to be released after a month of frontier going live as a best case scenario. As of January 2016 the Homestead release was about 80% complete – but the goals have been altered somewhat as frontier took in a large part of its projected development pipeline – for example the block reward was set to the full 5 ether.
In its new form, Homestead has become more of a patchwork of fixes to remove the risk warning attached to the ethereum homepage.
Homestead made the second release on March 15, 2016, following Frontier, which is a beta version.
Frontier that was affected by unstable operations, but Homestead is stable thanks to a distributed network
In addition, due to the shift to Homestead, it became easy to enter the application development on Ethernet, and it became more attractive from financial institutions and major companies, including the use of SDK in the block chain environment by Microsoft.
Phase Three: Metropolis
The Metropolis phase will be reached as soon as an official interface is released for technically inexperienced users. Similarly, Mist is to be introduced and its own dapp store. This is expected to include some fully functional programs designed to demonstrate the strength of the Ethereum network.
Between the Homestead and the Metropolis release, there will probably be one or more intermediate steps. Metropolis will be implemented in two steps:
The benefits of the Metropolis update are:
-Easier to implement Smart Contract
-Enhancement of privacy protection
-Adjustment of Difficulty Bomb
Simplification of Smart Contract
The elimination of difficult programming makes the development of Ethernet-based applications more flexible.
Enhance Privacy Protection
zk-SNARKs are proofs that you have performed a computation over some inputs without revealing all of the inputs. Zcash uses these proofs to verify transactions while protecting users’ privacy.
They are good for privacy and for reducing the verification cost of complicated smart contracts. Since they can be verified quickly, and because the proofs are small, they can protect the integrity of the computation without burdening non-participants.
Aimed at attacks from quantum computers and introduces measures against hacking. Users can have an address with secret key to increase network security.
Adjustment of Difficulty Bomb
There is a difficulty “bomb” that is built into the Ethereum protocol. It is meant to facilitate the adjustment into a Proof of Stake system by causing mining to be unprofitable/unfeasible. The block time is given by dividing the difficulty with the hash rate. Hence, the higher the hash rate, the lower the block time.
Phase Four: Serenity
Serenity is the fourth and final phase of Ethereum. Because PoW (Proof of Work) entails an enormous waste of energy, the developers want to find an alternative in this phase. The Ethereum Network is expected to be converted from PoW to PoS (Proof of Stake). Apart from this, the network should be faster, more efficient, easier for beginners and more resilient against the closure of mining capacity.
As with Bitcoin, Ethereum mining requires a massive amount of energy; rough estimations put energy use at levels similar to the entire nation of Estonia.
By switching to PoS, it becomes possible for individuals to perform mining by connecting to a computer network, thereby reducing consumption.
According to Alex de Vries, energy consumption after the switch to Proof of Stake will fall to near negligible levels.
Ethereum aims to evolve into a platform that will serve as the basis for various projects and startup applications.