The Ethereum network is scheduled to undergo an upgrade at block number 7,280,000 on Thursday, February 28, 2019. However, the exact date may change and could be activated 1-2 days before or after depending on block times. You can see a countdown timer at https://amberdata.io/blocks/7280000. To monitor the network upgrade in real time, you can visit http://forkmon.ethdevops.io/.
The network upgrade is called Constantinople and St. Petersburg. Previous upgrades had different names like Spurious Dragon and Byzantium. The reason for two names is because the original Constantinople upgrade was postponed, and two protocol upgrades are needed at the same block number to fix issues on Ethereum test networks like Ropsten.
If you are an Ethereum user or ether holder using exchanges (e.g. Coinbase, Kraken, or Binance), web wallet services (e.g. Metamask, MyCrypto, or MyEtherWallet), mobile wallet services (e.g. Coinbase Wallet, Status.im, or Trust Wallet), or hardware wallets (e.g. Ledger, Trezor, or KeepKey), you do not need to take any action unless instructed by your exchange or wallet service.
For node operators or miners, you need to download the latest version of your Ethereum client. Failure to participate in the upgrade will result in your client syncing to the pre-upgrade blockchain, leaving you on an incompatible chain with the old rules. This means you will be unable to send ether or operate on the post-upgrade Ethereum network.
A network upgrade in Ethereum means a change to the underlying protocol to improve the system. Upgrading a blockchain network requires cooperation and communication with the community and developers of various Ethereum clients to ensure a smooth transition.
During a network upgrade, changes agreed upon by the community are implemented into Ethereum clients like geth, Parity, and Harmony. These changes are activated at a specific block number. Nodes not upgraded to the new ruleset are left on the old chain with the previous rules.
The Constantinople upgrade includes several changes defined by Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), such as EIP 145 for bitwise shifting instructions, EIP 1014 for skinny CREATE2 opcode, EIP 1052 for EXTCODEHASH opcode, and EIP 1234 for Constantinople Difficulty Bomb Delay and Block Reward Adjustment.
St. Petersburg is the second network upgrade that reverses the original Constantinople changes, and it occurs on the same block number. One EIP, EIP 1283 for net gas metering for SSTORE without dirty maps, was removed from test networks using the St. Petersburg upgrade.
We would like to express our gratitude to the Ethereum community, developers, Reddit user cartercarlson, and the MyCrypto team for their input and contributions. Please note that this space is highly technical and the implementation of recommendations carries risks, including unexpected bugs. By implementing these recommendations, you assume the risks and the post does not create any warranties regarding the Ethereum network or clients mentioned.