Understanding EVM, virtual machines and EVM chains

What is a virtual machine — and what does it do?

A virtual machine as a sandbox

  • to run software created for another or older OS on a machine that normally wouldn’t support that software;
  • to test new code;
  • to run sensitive apps that should be protected from external threats that can impact the rest of the system.

EVM: the first blockchain virtual machine

Protection through separation

Execution: bytecode to opcodes

Preventing DDoS through fees

EVM as a state machine

Turing-complete or not?

EVM isn’t perfect: the 6 main issues

Why is EVM still king?

  • existing Ethereum dApps can be migrated/expanded to the new chain without having to rewrite the code;
  • developers don’t need to learn a new programming language;
  • developers can use the familiar Ethereum tools, such as MetaMask, Truffle, Waffle, etc.
  • users can connect to dApps on the new chain using their existing MetaMask account.

Alternatives to EVM: Move VM, WASM, eWASM, and BPF

Move VM

  • Controlled access and safety. Developers can set ownership rights and privileges for each digital asset (token). This way, even if someone manages to hack a smart contract, they won’t be able to drain it, because they won’t have the ownership rights.
  • Preventing errors. With Move and Move VM, many of the common smart contract bugs simply won’t be possible. Very importantly,the risk of reentrancy and double spend attacks is really low with Move VM.
  • Bytecode verification. A special verifier tool checks new code before it’s deployed, helping to eliminate errors.

WASM (Polkadot and Kusama)

eWASM (Ethereum 2.0)

BPF (Solana)

The new trend: EVM implementations in multichain ecosystems

  • A new blockchain ecosystem emerges — more scalable and cheaper to use than Ethereum, but without out-of-the-box EVM support (unlike Avalanche or Fantom, which support EVM natively).
  • The new ecosystem does, however, support multiple independent blockchains/parachains/subchains;
  • Soon, someone comes up with a parachain or subchain that supports EVM but leverages the high speed & low costs of the ecosystem.
  • Ethereum-based dApps that want to expand to the new ecosystem flock to the EVM subchain, which becomes an EVM/Ethereum hub.
  • Such a hub can even support multiple VMs — for example, EVM and WASM.

Aurora (NEAR)

  • The base token is ETH — you don’t need NEAR or AURORA
  • You don’t even need a NEAR wallet — Aurora supports MetaMask and WalletConnect (here is a tutorial for adding Aurora to MetaMask);
  • You can, however, transfer tokens to NEAR if you want to (via the Rainbow Bridge);
  • Gas fees are 1,000 times lower than in Ethereum (around $0.1);
  • Transactions become final in about 2 seconds;
  • You can bridge any ERC20 tokens to Aurora and back. NFT transfers from Ethereum should become possible soon, too. -
  • Like any chain on NEAR, Aurora can be sharded if it requires scaling in the future.

The biggest apps on Aurora

Neon EVM (Solana)

Moonbeam (Polkadot) and Moonriver on Kusama

Evmos (Cosmos)

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Pontem Network

Pontem Network

Aptos Blockchain Product Studios