Explainer: What to expect from Cardano’s Vasil upgrade

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Cardano (ADA) activated in favor of its Vasil hard fork, an upgrade designed to give its network more functionality. Developers promise that Vasil will improve smart contracts, increase throughput capacity, and reduce fees.

Cardano’s largest infrastructure company, Input Output, named the latest upgrade “Vasil” in honor of Vasil St. Babov, a Cardano ambassador who died in 2021. Babov is known for planting more than 10,000 gingko trees during his lifetime.

Vasil activates Version 2 of Cardano’s native smart contract programming language known as “Plutus.” The development team promises that it will be backwards compatible with Version 1. Plutus Version 2 is expected to go live on September 27, one epoch after the activation of the Vasil hard fork.

Cardano retired the Vasil DevNet, which it had used to test upgrades in the Vasil hard fork. For future development, it will use distinct test environments: Preview and PreProduction.

Vasil also changes the way that contracts handle inputs and unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs). Previously, contracts could only access data on the Cardano blockchain by spending and recreating UTXOs. Now, reference scripts can avoid creating new transactions, which can reduce congestion at the blockchain’s base layer.

Vasil activates Cardano Improvement Proposal 40 which changes transaction validation for scripts. Previously, if a script failed Phase 2 validation, it could lose all the funds in the collateral’s UTXO. Now if the script fails validation, it will only use the funds put up as collateral and send any remaining funds sent back to a specified change address.

Read more: How close is Cardano to displacing Ethereum as altcoin king?

Cardano promises to slightly improve decentralization of block production by removing a parameter that benefited data center-based block production. It also worked on making block verification faster without compromising security by dropping one of the two required Verifiable Random Functions (VRF).

Who was ready for Cardano’s Vasil hard fork?

Major exchanges like Binance announced support for Cardano’s Vasil hard fork. Hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger also announced support. Some Cardano-based dApps like Revuto updated to support the upgrade.

Cardano says 80% of Staking Pool Operator nodes, 90% of exchanges, and the top ten dApps by Total Value Locked (TVL) were prepared for Vasil. Input Output recommended that investors who keep their ADA tokens on an exchange double-check to make sure the exchange was ready for the hard fork.

IOHK’s Vice President for community and ecosystem, Tim Harrison, referred to watching the hard fork happen as “a glorious combination of edge of seat suspense and watching paint dry.”

Martify Labs announced the development package Mesh soon after the Vasil hard fork. According to Martify Labs’ website, Mesh is a Cardano-based software development kit for developing dApps.

Podcast host Rick McCracken ran a test attack on Cardano soon after the Vasil hard fork went live — his attack failed.

Upcoming Cardano improvements include “diffusion pipelining,” a method for improving Cardano’s speed and scalability by propagating blocks before they are fully validated. Diffusion pipelining will still require validating headers. This upgrade will not require a hard fork.

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