One of the most important parts of the Ethereum ecosystem lays the foundation for a variety of blockchain developments.
What is the Ethereum virtual machine?
The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is responsible for powering most existing blockchains. The EVM is a complex phenomenon that most of us probably think of as Ethereum itself. It is considered as the part of Ethereum that runs the deployment of smart contracts.
The EVM is at the heart of the smart contract revolution and is a key reason why the EVM processes billions of dollars a day. The EVM can be thought of as its own environment, a place where smart contracts and blockchain addresses exist and manifest.
In the simplest case, the EVM is a decentralized CPU; the EVM is the function of the current state of Ethereum. The current state of the Ethereum Virtual Machine is the collection of blockchain processes that are linked and coded to the mainnet.
The EVM provides an indication – a snapshot – of the current state. The state of the machine is constantly evolving and changing with each new smart contract execution. At each point, a snapshot could be taken to see and “define” what the canonical state of Ethereum is.
In other words, the Ethereum Virtual Machine is a virtual CPU for Ethereum to run and show the speed of smart contracts. As long as a single Ethereum node is still powered on, we will continue to have the EVM.
That’s pretty theoretical jargon too, so let’s take a step back. And define a virtual machine yourself.
What is a virtual machine?
Virtual machines (VM) have been around on computers for quite some time. Developers and computer programmers have long known that virtual machines can help run various software on compilers to run various non-native programs. Essentially, VMs can help make it easier for computer programs to distribute architecture-neutral data on top of other software or operating systems.
A virtual machine is a useful tool to run programs simultaneously on different systems, regardless of their native environment. VMs can simulate one CPU doing all of its execution on another CPU. A classic example would be an Apple Mac computer that can emulate and run a Windows application or software on its own software – or a Linux operator running a Windows program. There are countless examples.
When it comes to Ethereum, unlike a regular CPU with hardware – like the computer you’re probably using right now – the Ethereum virtual machine is a distributed connection of nodes that maintain the virtual machine. EVM (VMs) are sandboxed in the native system and cannot access other files or processes.
Why do we need EVM?
When blockchain technology came along with bitcoin, it was just a currency for transactions. Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum shows more than accounts or balances for a single currency as it has evolved an entire machine state.
EVM adds a neutral interpretation of contracts to blockchain technology. Ethereum’s main website describes itself as a “distributed state machine” because it develops and executes the idea of neutral ownership and facilitation of trade. The state of the virtual machine can enable neutral arbitration across all transactions, realizing a veritable mantra of blockchain enthusiasts.
The state has become the de facto measure of how blockchain transactions are accelerated and processed. It is well known that the EVM has served as a catalyst to redefine how global transactions are completed.
With Ethereum we saw the first blockchain to implement smart contracts that opened up the crypto world that we more or less know today. The developers behind Ethereum have created a new programming language called Solidity and other programming languages. The growth and success of Ethereum increased the demand for Solidity programmers.
One of the elegance and beauty of the EVM is that it makes the Ethereum ecosystem compatible and efficient. Without the EVM, blockchain programmers and developers would have to develop appropriate compilers for each operating system.
What is EVM Compatibility?
EVM compatibility is a common concept surrounding blockchain and Decentralized Finance (DeFi). Entire blockchains can be built with EVM compatibility and look no further than Binance Smart Chain, Polygon or Cronos to find digital ecosystems of decentralized applications and protocols with EVM compatibility.
When a blockchain says it’s EVM-compliant, that means the developers wrote the code to make smart contracts work and run in accordance with EVM standards. Many blockchains are aiming for EVM compatibility to ease the migration from Ethereum to their blockchain.
As more and more blockchains emerge, the difficulty of scaling increases when new code is needed. Imagine if every blockchain smart contract needed a new programming language to write its new contract. Getting new programmers to join and write would be a monumental task.
Creating an environment for running EVM-compatible code makes it easy for Ethereum developers to migrate smart contracts onto the EVM-compatible chain without having to rewrite the code from scratch. It’s not lazy, but efficient for scalability.
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