Top 4 Blockchain Virtual Machines for Decentralized Applications by@daniejjimenez
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Top 4 Blockchain Virtual Machines for Decentralized Applications

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From Polkadot to NEO, below is a review of the most popular VMs in the dApp ecosystem other than Ethereum. Congestion in the main blockchain network (that hosts the great ecosystem of decentralized applications (Ethereum)) has inspired hundreds of developers to work on solving this problem. Especially, while the transition to the Ethereum 2.0 scalability solution is gradually introduced to the blockchain ecosystem. However, with the emergence of demand to implement use cases with blockchain technology through dApps, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) has lagged considerably behind due to the problems inherent in its rigid architecture. As a consequence, problems of high fees, high latency periods, smart contracts stuck in execution, and low transaction speeds are today common problems due to the lack of scalability in the Layer one blockchain network.

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From Polkadot to NEO, below is a review of the most popular VMs in the dApp ecosystem other than Ethereum.

Congestion in the main blockchain network (that hosts the great ecosystem of decentralized applications (Ethereum)) has inspired hundreds of developers to work on solving this problem. Especially, while the transition to the Ethereum 2.0 scalability solution is gradually introduced to the blockchain ecosystem.

After Bitcoin was implemented as a network and currency, enthusiastic first-generation blockchain developers realized that with a few tweaks, this technology could be used beyond a peer-to-peer protocol.

As a result, Ethereum became the first virtual machine to allow decentralized applications (dapps) of all kinds to be deployed to run the robust use cases that we see in this industry today.

However, with the emergence of demand to implement use cases with blockchain technology through dApps, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) has lagged considerably behind due to the problems inherent in its rigid architecture.

As a consequence, problems of high fees, high latency periods, smart contracts stuck in execution, and low transaction speeds are today common problems due to the lack of scalability in the Layer one blockchain network.

Although the improvements implemented in EIP-1159 seek to alleviate this situation while the network migrates from an orthodox consensus mechanism for the development of dApps to a “more flexible” one, the fact is that we are very far from the real implementation of ETH 2.0 as a solution to the scaling problem.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that we do not know if this proposed solution will really be the definitive solution to the problems of Ethereum and the dApps ecosystem deployed in it.

After all, this is the first time that any kind of improvement has been made on this scale, not to mention that smart contracts deployed on the network will be hosted by shards (64 in total) when ETH 2.0 is implemented.

It is also worth noting that the main Ethereum network will continue to need solutions on and off its chain to complement the implementation of sharding in ETH 2.0. There is a challenge of knowing whether the improvement in this chain of blocks will be enough to assume the load and development on a network.

Faced with such challenges, we present some blockchain virtual machines for decentralized applications (Dapps) that can help Ethereum handle the load and development on its network without suffering the problems inherent in its rigid architecture.

ParaState SSVM

ParaState approaches the solution of scaling dApps in Ethereum from its root problem: The execution of smart contracts. By improving the execution times of this key component in any decentralized application, ParaState renders the inherent problems with EVM obsolete.

ParaState offers a highly scalable, unique solution for developers to execute smart contracts in a next-generation virtual environment.

With the SSVM-Ewasm Substrate module, developers are able to create dApps that can implement and execute Ethereum smart contracts in the Polkadot ecosystem to take advantage of the lowest transaction fees and high speeds inherent in this ecosystem.

Source: ParaState

Source: ParaState

The SSVM module is a virtual machine under the Ethereum-flavored WebAssembly (EWASM) standard, a key infrastructure component for public blockchains.

All existing and future Ethereum applications can run on ParaState's Ewasm VM (Pallet SSVM). In other words, developers can write Ethereum-compatible smart contracts and run them on the faster, scalable, and interoperable Substrate system.

By implementing WebAssembly as the core of their technology solution, developers can write code in more than 20 programming languages, including those most used for the implementation of Web 3.0.

RSK Virtual Machine (RVM)

Built on top of the Bitcoin network, the Rootstock (RSK) protocol allows developers to write smart contract code for decentralized applications on Ethereum.

RSK Virtual Machine (RVM) is responsible for enabling the functionality of smart contracts and is highly compatible with the Ethereum VM (EVM). It is a Turing complete virtual machine that, on average confirms smart contract transactions in less than 30 seconds.

Source: RSK

Source: RSK

Owing to its compatibility with EVM, it is possible to port the smart contracts of the Ethereum dApps to RSK with a minimum of work to take advantage of the technical capabilities of RSK (300 TPS) and the security of the Bitcoin Network.

In the future, RSK hopes to support an additional VM with better performance based on Java byte code or Wasm. With these improvements and the parallelization of operations (RSKIP-4 and RSKIP-144), the new VM will be able to execute tasks in parallel and in a more optimized and faster code format, thus improving its scalability and security.

NEO Virtual Machine (NeoVM)

Since its switch to NEO in 2017, the project has focused on supporting smart contracts and decentralized applications that relate to digital asset transfers and digital identity verifications.

NEO 3.0 is their latest update that seeks to digitally interconnect identities, contracts, and assets through an updated pricing model and internal oracles which support their renewed smart contracts through the Neo Virtual Machine (NeoVM).

This Virtual Machine features enhancements that increase performance, usability, and development capabilities in NEO, enabled by a more simplified technical architecture and some innovative features such as NeoFS and NeoID.

NeoVM was redesigned to support interoperability with other chains to solve real-world challenges. Through NeoVM, smart contracts provide adequate development support for engineers building dApps in the NEO ecosystem.

NEO's smart contract protocol, NeoContract, has the ability to execute and manage smart contracts using most mainstream programming languages, including industry standards Python, Java, C #, and JavaScript. This means that the system can be used by almost any developer and encourages cross-platform functionality.

NeoVM is a stack-based virtual machine. In addition, NeoVM compiles smart contracts into unified NVM bytecode files, which are then decoded and executed by the virtual machine with embedded Turing.

Source: Neo Docs

Source: Neo Docs

Algorand Virtual Machine (AVM)

In the Algorand Virtual Machine (AVM), smart contracts are known as stateful smart contracts. They contain logic that is implemented and can be called remotely from any node in the Algorand blockchain by issuing an application called a transaction.

The AVM interprets an assembly-like language called Transaction Execution Approval Language (TEAL). TEAL can be thought of as the syntactic sugar for the AVM byte code.

Smart contracts are written in a higher-level language and compiled into byte code for execution by the Layer 1 Algorand virtual machine (AVM). An easy framework is Ethereum, where smart contracts are written in Solidity and compiled into bytecode for execution by the EVM.

Source: Algorand

Source: Algorand

An enhanced version of the Algorand Virtual Machine (AVM), a Layer 1 protocol update designed to improve the scalability of decentralized applications for developers and organizations, was recently released to enable fast, carbon-negative transactions.

Algorand hopes with this new AVM to allow developers to write smart contracts in Python or Reach, a simple language similar to JavaScript. With interoperability with EVM as a mandate of the new VMs in the ecosystem, AVM will allow writing smart contracts with the full Turing languages.

AVM uses dynamic opcode costing that enables larger and more modular smart contracts. In addition to allowing looping and recursion, the AVM offers developers the ability to create subroutines and supports larger program sizes and many new additional operating codes.

With the new version, the protocol also supports pooled transaction fees, allowing developers to enable dApps to cover the cost of their customers' transactions.

Other notable features of AVM are the ability to operate at 512 bits wide, allowing applications that require high precision and easier portability of Ethereum smart contracts.

Conclusion

The race for compatibility with Ethereum has begun. Blockchain platforms have understood the importance of this Layer 1 blockchain network and all that its vast ecosystem represents for the blockchain industry.

With 90% of decentralized applications (dApps) deployed on its network, Ethereum is currently the most important blockchain network in terms of use cases.

For this reason, we have been observing for some months a change in the discourse from "Ethereum Killers" to "Compatibility." This shift shows that blockchain networks no longer want to compete with ETH but to take advantage of its ecosystem to gain traction and prominence instead.

VMs play a fundamental role in the correct execution of the smart contracts deployed in the thousands of decentralized applications of the ecosystem inside and outside of Ethereum. Given their crucial function, we expect they will evolve in the not too distant future from a new niche to the leading market solution on the path to the scalability of dApps.

The cases mentioned above represent only a glimpse of what we will see in the new generation of blockchain platforms seeking to gain followers through technical benefits adapted to the needs of decentralized application developers.

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