Everything you need to know about upcoming Cardano’s Vasil hardfork

The long-awaited, twice-delayed upgrade is set to go live in less than 10 hours and is expected to improve the blockchain’s scalability and lower transaction costs.

The Vasil hardfork, named in honor of a long-time community member Vasil Stoyanov Dabov, who passed on in 2021, is said to be Cardano’s most ambitious upgrade to date. Earlier this week, founder Charles Hoskinson revealed that Vasil implementation entered its final stage.

“We don’t anticipate there will be any issues, but there’s no going back now,” he said during a September 18 live stream. “No amount of testing or anything can save us because [the] rocket’s in the air. It either explodes in air or reaches orbit, and obviously, it’s going to reach orbit.”

Vasil hardfork is finally at hand

In a Wednesday update, Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK), a research and development company behind Cardano, announced that all three “critical mass indicators” necessary for launching the upgrade are met, and 13 cryptocurrency exchanges responsible for 87% of ADA liquidity already signaled their support for the fork. Currently, Coinbase remains the only top exchange that hasn’t yet confirmed its readiness for the upgrade, although recently, it hinted its support by tweeting that all ADA transactions would be halted for maintenance for Vasil implementation.

Originally, the fork was scheduled to go live on June 29, but the launch was delayed several times due to some critical bugs discovered in the client software. “The work on Vasil has been the most complex program of development and integration to date, from several angles. It’s a challenging process that requires not only significant work from core teams, but also close coordination across the ecosystem,” Nigel Hemsley, IOHK’s head of delivery and project, wrote in a blog post.

So, what exactly makes Vasil so significant to the entire Cardano ecosystem?

Increased DApp performance

Vasil upgrade will introduce a new version of Plutus, Cardano’s native smart contracts language, which is said to add greater efficiency to its already powerful smart contracts platform. New Plutus features, which include node and CLI support for reference inputs, inline datums, reference scripts, and collateral outputs, will enable DApp developers to create “novel and exciting experiences.”

All those capabilities, along with a new Plutus cost model, will become available for developers exactly one epoch later, on September 27.

Vasil deployment timeline and key dates.
Image: Cardano

“The community is eagerly anticipating these updates to Plutus. Several much-awaited new DeFi projects, including Indigo Protocol, Liqwid Finance, and Maladex intend to leverage v2 capabilities when they launch,” IOHK wrote. “And many other, currently live projects will upgrade their code to take full advantage of the new capabilities.”

Faster transactions

Another significant improvement, known as “diffusion pipelining,” will enable gains in block production by optimizing block propagation time. It will increase the network throughput and cut transaction fees.

“Diffusion pipelining effectively streamlines the process of sharing information about newly created blocks among network participants by ensuring that blocks can be shared (propagated) in the network well within five seconds (the safe security ‘ceiling’) after their creation. Diffusion pipelining propagates blocks before their full validation, thus ‘overlapping’ the time spent on diffusion with the time needed on validation,” IOHK explained.

Greater security and scalability

Finally, diffusion pipelining will also improve the network’s scalability by enabling further adjustments. It will also optimize Ouroboros’ Verifiable Random Function, a technology that determines which node has acquired the right to produce the next block. After Vasil, only one VRF would be needed instead of two, resulting in faster block validation and better performance without compromising security settings.

According to IOHK, Vasil upgrade for end users will be a “seamless and fuss-free affair.” ADA holders don’t need to do anything, but some exchanges may experience service disruptions, so it’s better to use platforms that have already upgraded, developers warn.