Ethereum Price Surges Inspiring Confidence With Tricky Byzantium Code Update Set For Sunday

Something big is happening in the cryptocurrency market. Ethereum, the second largest digital coin behind Bitcoin, is receiving a major change to its codebase on Sunday, and nobody knows what exactly will happen. The update amounts to another hard fork, which for the most part have gone well for Ethereum miners and its investors. But there is always that unknown.

"I expect that nothing will happen," Ethereum Foundation developer and designer Alex Van de Sande told CoinDesk. "Nothing happened with previous hard forks, except for one."

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The exception Alex refers to is when an emergency hard fork this past summer resulted in part of the Ethereum community mining on the old blockchain rather than adopting the new code. This created a new asset called Ethereum Classic, which in turn caused some users and companies to lose funds. It also presented Ethereum with another competing cryptocurrency to go up against.

Even so, many view tomorrow's update, called Byzantine, as a necessary one. It is designed to make Ethereum lighter and faster, and also more private. The update has been part of Ethereum's roadmap for the past couple of years, so this is not something that is coming out of the blue.

"The fork is pretty uneventful. Everything went smooth on Ropsten, and it appears like all else is on track for a healthy transition," said Stephen King, principal and co-founder of Ethereum-based real estate app RexMLS.

While there is plenty of optimism surrounding the pending update, there is also uncertainty due to Byzantine being "a very technical fork," as Alex describes its. Many of the changes will be difficult for users to fully grasp, but will give developers more options for building applications on top of Ethereum.

At present, Ethereum is valued at $342.22, up from around $300 to $305 over the past week. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is approaching $6,000 after topping $5,000 just yesterday. Where the ceiling lies for either cryptocurrency or alternatives such as Litecoin remains to be seen. Some feel that Ethereum is the better bet at this point in time. If you are interested in taking the plunge in the mining side, we put together a benchmark and optimization guide that will get you started. And if not, you can sit back like the rest of us and watch the digital spectacle.

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