What is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)?
Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is a device used to manage the blockchain and execute smart contracts. EVM is implemented by the software running on Ethereum nodes. Nodes help in keeping track of transactions that are done to update the ledger during the EVM work.
Next, let us understand the task performed by the EVM.
EVM takes part in executing the transactions and creating the blocks.While executing the transactions, the instructions are given by the Opcodes(Low-level machine instructions) which would function how the EVM executes the given task.Whereas for creating blocks, there is a set standard for managing the state block by block. Merkle Patricia Trie is used to store these states and works as a source of ground reality for Ethereum.
How Does Ethereum Virtual Machine Works
The process through which EVM works is:
- Receiving a transaction: Whenever the user needs to execute the smart contract, they have to make a transaction on the Ethereum network. The transaction has the bytecode for the smart contract and the input data with which the smart contract needs to be executed.
- Check gas: When the node receives a transaction, it checks to see if the sender has enough ETH to pay the gas fees. Gas is a computational unit that’s used to measure the cost of executing smart contracts. The amount of gas required to execute a smart contract is decided by the amount of effort and complexity of the contract.
- Executing the contract: After confirming that the sender has enough ETH to pay for the gas, the full node will then execute the smart contract. The EVM executes the smart contract by following one instruction at a time, and it maintains the state of the blockchain by doing so. The state of the blockchain includes the current balances of all accounts, as well as the current values of all variables in all smart contracts.
- Returning a result: After EVM finishes executing the smart contract, it returns a result to the user. The result can be a boolean, a value, or an error. The user can then use the result to update their application or to store the result in a database.
The EVM allows the developers to create decentralized applications( dApps) which run on the blockchain. The EVM also helps in ensuring that the ETH network is secure and tamper-proof.
Purpose of Ethereum Virtual Machine
Some of the use cases of EVM are:
- Executing smart contracts: The EVM executes smart contracts one instruction at a time, and it maintains a state of the blockchain as it does so. The state of the blockchain has the current balances for all the accounts, as well as the current values of all variables in all smart contracts.
- Ensuring security: The EVM is designed to be secure. The security is ensured through a number of security features, such as using a decentralized network of nodes.
- Enabling the decentralized applications( dApps): EVM allows the developers to build dApps that can run on the blockchain. These applications can be used to create games, store data, and transfer value.
Benefits of Ethereum Virtual Machine
Some of the major advantages of EVM are:
- Secure: The EVM is built secure and tamper-proof. This is achieved through various mechanisms, including the decentralized nature of the network and cryptographic techniques used in the consensus algorithm.
- Decentralized Network: The EVM is a decentralized computer running on every full node in the Ethereum network. Having a decentralized network ensures that no single entity has control over the EVM, and makes it less vulnerable to attack by a single point of failure.
- Scalable: EVM can be used to execute smart contracts that are more complex and require more computation as the Ethereum network grows which makes it easier for the network to scale.
The EVM allows the developers to build dApps that run on the blockchain. The EVM ensures that the ETH network is secure, decentralized, and scalable.
Disadvantages of Ethereum Virtual Machine
Apart from the advantages, EVM has certain disadvantages that should be kept in mind including:
- High gas costs: Each transaction on the Ethereum network has a fee, which is paid in ETH. This fee is known as "gas" or “gas fee” which is used to pay for the computational resources to execute the transactions. The amount of gas required for a transaction is determined by its complexity. For example, a simple transaction that only sends ETH from one address to another will require less gas than a transaction that creates a new smart contract.
- Slow transaction speeds: Ethereum network transactions can get a bit slower at times, during periods of high network congestion. It’s because all the transactions on the Ethereum network should be verified by all nodes on the network. This can take several seconds or even minutes, depending on the network congestion.
Even with these disadvantages, the EVM has enabled the advancement of a wide variety of decentralized applications on the Ethereum network. With the Ethereum network continuing to grow and mature, these disadvantages are likely to be addressed by the network.
The future of EVMs
The future of EVMs looks very much promising. They're expanding their feature sets, and in future we'll see years of infrastructural development peak when EVM dApps will be more secure and robust.
Some of the reasons for bright future predictions for the EVMs are:
- Open-source and permissionless: EVMs are Open-source and permissionless, which means that anyone can access them to create dApps. This has led to a wide variety of applications being developed on EVM-compatible blockchains, including Ethereum, Avalanche, and Solana.
- Turing-complete: EVMs are Turing-complete, which means that they can be used to run any type of program making them a powerful tool for developers who want to create complex and sophisticated applications.
- Security: EVMs have been battle-tested and have proven to be very resistant to attacks tried by hackers.
- Scalable: EVMs have been supporting a large number of transactions per second making it a scalable option.
As the Ethereum network grows and gets more features added, the EVM is predicted to become even more popular. EVMs are an important part of the decentralized application ecosystem, and they are essential for the future of blockchain technology.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q) How is the EVM different from other blockchain virtual machines?
Ans) Some of the ways EVM is different than other blockchain virtual machines are:
- Decentralized mechanism
- Gas-powered design
Q) What is the purpose of the EVM's opcode system?
Ans) The EVM's opcode system is a set of instructions defining how the smart contracts are executed on the Ethereum blockchain. Each opcode has some particular task, for example, adding two numbers together, accessing data from storage, or calling another smart contract. The opcode system allows developers to write complex and sophisticated smart contracts which are used for implementing a wide variety of dApps.