Unless you are a crypto-native who spends their time reading whitepapers filled with jargon and wading through blockchains, chances are you have never heard of “EVM.”
The EVM, an abbreviation for Ethereum Virtual machine is the tech behind the world’s largest smart-contract network. The EVM was once the exclusive domain of the Ethereum network. It has since become synonymous with all blockchains, new and old.
EOS to Qtum: Blockchains that were previously incompatible with Ethereum have now adopted the virtual machine (VM), which is used to read and execute their code. It’s important to understand how and why EVM compatibility is so popular.
Lifting the Lid on The World Computer
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency distributed network that allowed for sending and receiving crypto currency. Then, Ethereum was created. It is the first decentralized computer in the world that allows smart contracts (programs) to be sent just like cryptocurrency. After Ethereum’s success, a slew d of other blockchains followed, each one with its own programming language and VM to deploy code.
The blockchain boom has been a blessing for speculators, who have found an infinite number of native tokens that they can flip for profit. It has done little to link the cryptocurrency ecosystem, which is becoming increasingly isolated and incompatible. This is creating a sea filled with token islands.
Incompatible programming languages and virtual machines have created a Tower of Babel scenario in which rival networks are unable to communicate with each other to facilitate cross-chain asset transfer. Blockchain architects discovered that the solution is to take on Ethereum by introducing EVM support on its own chain.
Although bolting on a non native VM can be a pain for blockchain engineers, it is worth the effort. EVM connectivity allows Ethereum users to connect with other networks by pressing a button. MetaMask is a popular web wallet that allows you to connect to many EVM-friendly networks, and then to transfer funds using blockchain bridges.
If You Can’t Beat Em, Join Em
The Virtual Machine of Ethereum may not be the most powerful VM in the sector. It’s nine years old, but it still holds the first mover advantage. Although the network will eventually upgrade to Ethereum 2.0, the EVM could be replaced by the more powerful eWASM. However, that may be a while away and the EVM will still reign supreme.
The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) allows applications to interact with decentralized blockchains. It is essentially a virtual computer that reads and executes code published to the network.
Why EVM and Why Now?
Post-Ethereum blockchains have two great features: faster transactions and lower transaction costs. EVM support also includes full compatibility to the largest smart contract network in the world. The familiarity of Ethereum and its family can be retained by users – portfolio trackers and wallets, decentralized exchanges and portfolio trackers – while also enjoying the speed and low-fee environment offered by newer networks.
These include Polkadot ( DOT), which was developed by Gavin Wood, an Ethereum co-founder who was integral in the development of the EVM. Polkadot is made up of a number of interconnected “parachains”, one of which, Moonbeam boasts EVM compatibility.
Wood is not the only co-founder of Ethereum. He has since gone on to create other blockchains, but he remains indebted the EVM. Cardano, which was founded by Charles Hoskinson and is not compatible with Ethereum, is similar to Polkadot. Developers have come up with a clever way to make these blockchains “talk”. Milkomeda brought the trusted EVM to a Cardano ecosystem. To provide another Ethereum-friendly option, Cardano has welcomed Wanchain to the fold.
New Shots at Ethereum for Old Chains
Although Polkadot, Cardano and EVM connectivity have been around for years, they are still relatively young networks when compared to Ethereum. Cardano was developed slowly by design. Smart contract capabilities (and now EVM connection) were only introduced after rigorous testing and refinement.
Although Polkadot’s and Cardanos founders can be traced back to Ethereum, this cannot be said for Qtum or EOS, which are two “OGs” in the blockchain world. And yet, inevitably, the duo are also pivoting towards a less Ethereum-antagonistic stance.
EOS, the network that Dan Larimer founded, is now back in the news due to an ” hostile takeover by the EOS Network Foundation. EOS’s EVM version is being called the “slickest EVM” and promises to outperform other Ethereum-imitators.
Qtum uses a UTXO method for ordering transactions, which was popularized by Bitcoin. Qtum also offers EVM compatibility, not content with limiting itself only to one VM model. Binance’s Side Chain network (BSC), Cronos was built by Crypto.com with Cosmos, SDK. It also features a faster and cheaper EVM and Syscoin, Harmony, Avalanche and Syscoin. These EVM-supporting chains can be complemented by Flare which provides EVM services to all chains who wish to add it.
A Race for Arms that Shows No Signs Of Slowing
The creation of an EVM chain, or sidechain, is not the endgame. It’s just the latest exchange in the ongoing fight for network supremacy. Two things are evident in the decision of blockchains large and small, old and new to support Ethereum’s architecture instead of forcing their own VM onto the market. First, Ethereum is still a difficult act to follow despite its many design flaws. Second, open source code allows for the free flow of the best ideas.
The EVM, the Virtual Machine that has spawned an army, is just like Bitcoin. It was the first to be able to create altcoins. Although Ethereum’s network effects are yet to be surpassed by its trusted VM, it has been put into service on the most unlikely of networks.
Multi-chain advocates believe that any of these contenders can eventually surpass Ethereum as the cryptosphere’s smart contract network of preference. They have already taken its most valuable tech. They’re now after its most valuable resource, its users.