Open Heart Surgery: Inside Ethereum’s Crucial Replacement of the EVM

Posted on Sep 17, 2018

Open Heart Surgery: Inside Ethereum’s Crucial Replacement of the EVM

The virtual machine that allows ethereum to compute everything in a decentralized way is getting a massive overhaul. At the heart of ethereum lies a virtual computer. Stored across tens of thousands of nodes that make up the platform, the ethereum virtual machine, or EVM, is responsible for executing the countless tokens,dapps, DAOs and digital kittens of which the blockchain is comprised of.

It’s an engine on top of which the entirety of ethereum operates, and it speaks in a language named ‘EVM bytecode’ — raw, 256-bit strings of information that can deliver any conceivable equation (providing it falls within the platform’s self-imposed limit, gas). Sounds powerful and important huh? Something not to be messed with too much?

Yet, that integral part of ethereum’s infrastructure is gearing up for a complete rewrite. As such, the current EVM will be replaced by a new virtual machine called eWASM. EWASMis just ethereum’s version of the WASM (which stands for WebAssembly) code, created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the team of developers responsible for maintaining and standardizing the web.

Indeed, eWASM will allow developers tocode in multiple programming languages — not just the ethereum-specific language, Solidity — and is said to come with a host of performance enhancements as well.