Cardano’s Vasil Hard Fork Explained

Market Analysis
Cardano’s Vasil Hard Fork Explained

Cardano’s upcoming Vasil hard fork will see the blockchain network undergo its second major upgrade. The Vasil hard fork is touted as the “largest and most significant achievement of the Cardano Ecosystem”. So in this article, we will take a look at what is the Vasil upgrade, when the upgrade will take place and what are some of the features that users can expect from the Vasil hard fork.


What Is Cardano’s Vasil Hard Fork?

The short answer is that Cardano’s blockchain will be upgraded.


A hard fork happens when there is separation and divergence in the network whereby two different versions of the network are run separately. One version will keep following its current rules while the second version will follow a new set of rules. This change will not be backwards-compatible. A blockchain network typically undergoes a hard fork when there is a need to add or fix features of a blockchain. 


Cardano’s Vasil hard fork is the blockchain network’s second hard fork, the first being the Alonzo hard fork back on September 13, 2021. With the Vasil mainnet hard fork, Cardano’s developers aim to improve the overall stability and connectivity of the blockchain network and its smart contract, Plutus. 


According to Input Output Global (IOG), the blockchain’s development lab,


“The upgrade will also bring enhancements to Plutus to enable devs to create more powerful and efficient blockchain-based applications”. 


The hard fork will also look to improve the experience for developers who are creating decentralized applications on its blockchain. The Vasil hard fork is part of Cardano’s current Basho phase which will see the blockchain focus on improving its scalability and network & ledger optimization. 


When Is Cardano’s Vasil Hard Fork?

Cardano’s second hard fork was initially scheduled to be released on the 28th of June 2022 but it was pushed back for more testing. However, the upgrade is now confirmed to take place on September 22, 2022. 


What Are The Proposed Features For Cardano’s Vasil Hard Fork Upgrade?

With the Vasil hard fork upgrade, these are the main improvements that users can expect from Cardano’s network:


  • CIP-31 (Reference Inputs)

Simply looking at data on Cardano’s current network, before the Vasil hard fork upgrade, requires expanding power. This results in unnecessary spending. With the introduction of Reference Inputs, users will be able to access information on Cardano’s network without needing to spend it on transactions. Thus, Reference Inputs solve the issue by allowing users to look at the reference input without using the actual data.


  • CIP-32 (Inline Datums)

Transactions on the existing Cardano blockchain require datum hashes. The implementation of Inline Datums in the Vasil hard fork upgrade would allow datums, pieces of data, to be attached to outputs instead of datum hashes. Cardano’s Vasil hard fork will enable the actual datum to be used as output instead of the datum’s hash. 


With the upgrade, a datum can now be stored in an output which allows it to be easily read by other applications. This not only allows developers to store their data on-chain but also increases decentralization.


  • CIP-33 (Reference Scripts)

The problem with Plutus (Cardano’s smart contract language) scripts is that they do not live on the blockchain. So every time a transaction is made, the script must be uploaded to the blockchain which means that more data is carried in every block. This results in slower performance and higher expenses. 


With Cardano’s Vasil hard fork, “reference scripts” are introduced to act in place of the Plutus scripts. Instead of having to include whole scripts, transactions can simply “point” to these reference scripts making them “lightweight”. As each transaction carries less data, The Vasil hard fork will allow transactions on Cardano’s network to be quicker and cheaper. 


  • Diffusion Pipelining

According to Cardano’s website, Diffusion pipelining “is a feature that improves block propagation times and further leads to higher throughput. In essence, it streamlines the process of sharing information about newly created blocks among network participants.” Diffusion pipelining would allow Cardano to increase its block size and scalability without making major changes to the network.


  • Hydra Integration

The introduction of Hydra as a Layer-2 system will help the Cardano blockchain scale “by reducing latency and increasing the throughput, or transactions per second (TPS).” Even as the Cardano network, Cardano developers aim to keep transaction costs low with the Hydra integration.  


After multiple delays, the Vasil hard fork is finally scheduled to be held on the 22nd of September 2022. Put simply, the Vasil upgrade will allow Cardano to increase both its block size and the number of transactions per second without altering the network’s Proof of Stake consensus mechanism.


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