The eager wait for the first Ethereum upgrade is now over. As we previously reported, the Byzantium stage of the upgrade is now running on the test net and it has just verified its first ZK-Snark proof. For those who may not be familiar, Byzantium was the first stage of the Metropolis upgrade.
The news was shared via Twitter by the Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin. He also confirmed that the Metropolis hard fork is due to take place in late September.
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) September 19, 2017
ZK-snarks are a cryptographic proof which are called “zero knowledge”. ZK-snarks is a form of anonymous transaction which is the basis for the Z-Cash cryptocurrency. ZK-snarks are used to prove that data is valid without actually revealing what that data is. ZK-snark proofs will allow users on the Ethereum network to send transactions with total anonymity from the blockchain.
You can view the actual ZK-snark transaction on the Test network. One thing that should be noted is that ZK-snark transactions are computationally heavy and hence quite expensive in terms of gas. For example, in this test transaction, we can see that the transaction required 1,933,895 gas to run. If one were to compare this to the cost of an average Ethereum transactions of 21,000 it is considerably more.
It is hoped that the Byzantium upgrade will allow the Ethereum network to scale more appropriately and allow larger applications to be run on the virtual machine. On the 22nd of September, we are also scheduled to see a block time increase to 30 seconds.
This increase in block time limits is the beginning of a difficulty adjustment that is called the “Ethereum ice age”. It is implemented to incentivise miners to move onto the new chain once the Metropolis hard fork gets underway.
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