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All About the Ethereum Virtual Machine: What is EVM?

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

If you've heard the term "EVM' thrown around in crypto spaces, and not quite sure what it is, you've come to the right place.

The Ethereum Virtual Machine is an integral part of many modern blockchains. In this article, we discuss what EVM is and the part it plays in the development of blockchain products, dApps, and smart contracts within the ecosystems of many of the most popular blockchains.

Keep reading to learn more about the Ethereum Virtual Machine.

The Crypto Gate Blog Image - Ethereum as it sees itself

If you've ever minted an NFT, used a decentralized exchange or NFT marketplace, or created a liquidity pair for a yield farm, or any other decentralized application (dApp), there's a high likelihood that you interacted with something that utilizes the Ethereum Virtual Machine. The EVM provides a uniform platform for the execution of code, which makes it possible to create dApps on the Ethereum blockchain. dApps are a class of applications that use smart contracts to provide functionality that is decentralized and transparent.

EVM is the engine under the hood of some of the most popular blockchains that makes smart contracts and token standards consistent across blockchain platforms.

EVM Overview

The sections below discuss a few different aspects of the Ethereum Virtual Machine including a high-level explanation of how the EVM works, EVM and smart contract programming, some of the EVM compatible blockchains, and implications for blockchain and smart contract development, After reading, you should have a pretty good handle on what EVM is, and how you might use it during your crypto journey.


How the Ethereum Virtual Machine Works

The EVM is a Turing-complete virtual machine, which means it is capable of running any computation that can be expressed in code. It is designed to be deterministic, meaning that the same code will always produce the same result, regardless of where or when it is executed.

The EVM operates on the basis of gas, which is a measure of the computational resources required to execute a particular piece of code. For blockchains that utilize POW or Proof of Work consensus, gas correlates to the computational energy required to bring a transaction to finality. For blockchains that have a POS or Proof of Stake consensus, gas is essentially the fee paid to stakers to process the transaction. Every transaction that is executed on the Ethereum blockchain requires a certain amount of gas, which is paid for in Ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain.

The gas mechanism is designed to prevent spamming and other forms of abuse on the Ethereum blockchain. It ensures that every transaction is executed efficiently and fairly, and that the network is not overloaded with unnecessary or malicious code. This, to a large extent, is an incentive for developers to produce good blockchain code since gas at times can be monetarily expensive.

EVM and Smart Contract Development

The EVM is designed to run smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts that contain the terms of an agreement between two parties. Smart contracts can be used for a wide range of applications, from financial services to supply chain management to gaming. Most smart contracts are designed to be trustless, so a transaction does not have to rely on a physical arbiter to broker and maintain the integrity of a transaction, but this is beyond the scope of this article.

Smart contracts are written in high-level programming languages such as Solidity, which is a contract-oriented programming language that is specifically designed for use with the EVM. Once a smart contract is written, it is compiled into bytecode, which is then uploaded to the Ethereum blockchain.

When a smart contract is executed, it runs on the EVM, which ensures that it executes according to the rules of the Ethereum blockchain. The EVM ensures that the smart contract executes correctly and that the results of the execution are recorded accurately on the blockchain.

EVM Compatible Blockchains

The EVM is not exclusive to the Ethereum blockchain, as other blockchain platforms have developed their own versions of the EVM to make it possible to run Ethereum-compatible smart contracts on their blockchains. Some of the most popular EVM-compatible blockchains include:

  • Binance Smart Chain

  • Polygon

  • Optimism

  • Harmony

  • Avalanche

  • Gnosis

  • Fantom

  • Loop Network

  • And More

The development of EVM-compatible blockchains has made it possible for developers to create smart contracts that can be executed across multiple blockchain platforms, making it easier to create interoperable dapps that can be used by users on different blockchains.

Implications for Blockchain and Smart Contract Development

The development of the EVM has had significant implications for the development of blockchain and smart contract applications. It has made it possible to create decentralized applications that are transparent, secure, and efficient.

One of the key benefits of the EVM is that it provides a uniform platform for the execution of code. This means that developers can write smart contracts in high-level programming languages, rather than having to write code in the low-level languages that are typically used for blockchain development.

The EVM has also made it possible to create smart contracts that can be executed in a decentralized manner, without the need for intermediaries or central authorities. This has the potential to reduce costs and increase efficiency in a wide range of applications, from financial services to supply chain management.

The development of EVM-compatible blockchains has also made it possible to create dApps that can be used across multiple blockchain platforms. This interoperability is essential for the growth of the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem, as it allows users to move assets and data seamlessly between different blockchains.

In addition, the development of EVM-compatible blockchains has created a vibrant ecosystem of developers, entrepreneurs, and investors who are working to build new and innovative blockchain applications. This ecosystem is driving the growth of the blockchain industry, and has the potential to transform many aspects of our economy and society.

Overall, the EVM and EVM-compatible blockchains are essential components of the blockchain ecosystem, and will continue to play a central role in the development of new blockchain applications and use cases in the years to come.

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