The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is a virtual machine that runs smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. It is a decentralized, open-source platform that allows developers to create and deploy applications that are secure, reliable, and trustless. The EVM is the backbone of the Ethereum network, enabling developers to write, deploy, and execute smart contracts in a secure and trustless environment. With the EVM, developers have the ability to execute code in a trustless and secure environment, making it an important part of the Ethereum blockchain.
- EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) is a virtual computing environment, a distributed computer responsible for executing algorithms on the Ethereum network, called smart contracts.
- EVM is considered Turing complete machine, which means the theoretical possibility of processing any calculations that can be done on computers with enough computing resources.
- As a payment for the execution of smart contracts, the EVM uses “gas” (gwei), which is included in the cost of the transaction. The specific amount of gas that the user must pay depends on the complexity of the calculations performed and the current workload of the Ethereum blockchain.
Creator of the EVM
The concept of the Ethereum Virtual Machine was outlined in “Yellow Paper” in 2015, Ethereum co-founder and Ethereum Foundation CTO Gavin Wood. He also developed the Solidity programming language, which is used to create smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. In 2016, Wood left Ethereum to develop a new project, Polkadot.
What is Ethereum Virtual Machine for?
The EVM can be thought of as a set of distributed computers that compute according to the same rules on the same network and do not have a centralized control authority.
Unlike the Bitcoin protocol, presented as a distributed ledger, Ethereum is a large data structure that the EVM is responsible for processing and modifying. Any code written to the Ethereum block is executed on each of the tens of thousands of virtual machines independently of each other.
The EVM guarantees that all transactions and smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain will be executed according to the established rules in accordance with the smart contract code. It is the EVM that serves as a platform for performing operations with tokens on the Ethereum network, calling smart contracts, changing address balances and application states.
Meaning of “throttle” for EVM
Gas (gwei) in Ethereum acts as an internal currency used as payment for transactions carried out on the EVM. 1 gwei is equal to 0.000000001 ETH. “Gas” in Ethereum is an analogue of automobile fuel, with which the user must “refuel” the transfer before starting to move.
The gas limit for each transaction will vary depending on the complexity of the transaction and the load on the Ethereum network. For example, in mid-2021, against the backdrop of a boom in demand for the Shiba Inu meme-cryptocurrency, the average transaction fee in Ethereum reached $60, a swap on Uniswap cost $135, and a deposit replenishment in Compound was more than $200. The main reason for this was the high load on the blockchain — a large number of users made transactions with Shiba Inu in parallel.
If the operation turns out to be too complicated, the amount of gas limit set may not be enough, and the EVM will stop processing the transaction without writing it to the Ethereum blockchain.
The lack of gas as payment for the operation of the EVM could lead to infinitely complex calculations that could bring the network to a halt due to congestion. Thus, the gas in Ethereum performs the function of protecting against intruders and attacks on the blockchain.
Where is the EVM used?
While many crypto projects use their own virtual machines, the Ethereum blockchain is not the only platform running on the EVM. Here are some blockchain platforms using this development:
- Ethereum Classic. A platform for creating and executing smart contracts based on the Proof-of-Work consensus algorithm.
- Vechain. Blockchain built on the Proof-of-Authority consensus mechanism.
- fantom. A Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) smart contract platform that is fully compatible with the EVM.
- Polygon. A network of protocols and blockchains deployed on top of Ethereum.
EVM Compatible Blockchains
The Ethereum virtual machine has a number of disadvantages, including high storage costs, low scalability, high gas prices during Ethereum network congestion, and significant limitations for smart contract programming.
EVM-compatible networks can serve as a solution to these problems, which use a code execution environment similar to the Ethereum virtual machine, but at the same time much cheaper transactions due to special scaling solutions. This allows developers of decentralized applications in the Ethereum ecosystem to easily migrate to more scalable blockchains without having to write smart contracts from scratch.
One group of such solutions is called sidechains. They can use separate blockchains with their own consensus algorithm and block creation parameters, but an EVM-compatible virtual machine. Examples of Ethereum sidechains include Matic (Polygon PoS), Gnosis Chain or Loom Network.
Another option is second-level solutions (Layer 2) based on Rollups technology. One example of L2 projects is the Optimism platform, which uses the Optimistic Rollups protocol. Smart contracts in this blockchain are controlled by the EVM, the rollup protocol performs calculations and stores the state of contracts in a separate Optimistic Virtual Machine.
Development of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)
Over the next few years, a number of major updates should take place in Ethereum, the first of which should be The Merge – the transition of the blockchain to the new Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm.
In July 2022 Vitalik Buterin introduced a phased plan for the development of the Ethereum blockchain. One of these main steps should be to change the Ethereum Virtual Machine to a new virtual machine – Ethereum WebAssembly (eWASM).
Although there is no final and detailed eWasm documentation yet, the developers allocate its following advantages:
- The speed of execution of smart contracts, close to native;
- Ability to develop contracts in many popular languages, including C, C++, and Rust;
- Access to a huge developer community and WebAssembly tools.
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The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is a powerful tool that allows developers to create decentralized applications and smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. It is a decentralized, Turing-complete virtual machine that can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes. This makes it a powerful platform that can be used to create and run a variety of applications and smart contracts with the highest level of security and transparency. It is a key component of the Ethereum network and its development is integral to the success of the Ethereum ecosystem.