NFT Labs
4 min readDec 9, 2022

The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM): What Is It?

The Ethereum virtual machine (EVM) is frequently referred to as “the heart of Ethereum.” An EVM enables developers to produce smart contracts and DApps in the Solidity programming language, just like the heart pumps blood that carries oxygen and nutrition throughout the body. What sets it apart from Bitcoin and other distributed ledgers is that it’s the engine behind the majority of DApps being developed these days.

Developers utilize an Ethereum virtual machine, often known as a “virtual computer,” as a software platform to build decentralized applications (DApps) and to run and deploy smart contracts on the Ethereum network.

You’ve heard of Ethereum virtual machines, whether you’re a programmer interested in DApps or an investor curious to learn more about the constantly changing world of EVM cryptocurrency. It is helpful to first become familiar with an EVM’s history to better comprehend what it is.

BitTorrent was the first DApp, according to Vitalik Buterin, the developer of Ethereum. The file-sharing protocol was created in 2001 by Bram Cohen, and it has resisted numerous attempts to be killed off.

Every computer in every home worldwide would need to be turned off to effectively stop BitTorrent. It is a virtual machine free from physical limitations. The Ethereum virtual machine shares the same characteristics. The EVM is the perfect platform for new programmers because it does not require extremely powerful hardware. However, to understand EVM-compatible code and the Ethereum virtual machine in general, it is helpful to have some familiarity with bytes, stacks, and blockchain concepts like hash functions and proof of work.

The goal of the Ethereum virtual machine is to ascertain the status of each block in the Ethereum blockchain. While EVMs and other blockchain-based networks employ a distributed ledger to manage transaction databases, EVMs’ smart contract capabilities provide them with an extra layer of functionality. This second layer is frequently referred to as a “distributed state machine.”

What Functions of an EVM?

An Ethereum virtual machine can be thought of as nothing more than a sizable database that stores all of Ethereum’s accounts and balances. It is also a machine state that may run machine code and evolve with each new block that is added to the blockchain ledger. The EVM itself specifies the rules that control how the EVM will alter with each new block.

An Ethereum virtual machine, to put it another way, is a software platform and processing engine that works like a decentralized computer. Developers use the Ethereum virtual machine to build DApps based on Ethereum and its EVM-compatible programming language, Solidity, including Defi and EVM crypto applications, games, and markets like OpenSea.

The Ethereum virtual machine is in charge of the execution and deployment of smart contracts. It is the living, breathing home of millions of DApps built on the Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts.

Consider the blockchain of Ethereum as a P2P network made up of many unique nodes. Each node is accountable for the stability and security of the entire ecosystem because they are connected. Each node makes use of the EVM to accomplish this and preserve consensus throughout the Ethereum blockchain.

EVMs and CPUs: Similarities and Differences

It is helpful to go back to the fundamentals and consider how computer programs operate to further clarify the idea behind the EVM. They use a programming language, such as Java or C++, to write all their software. Java and C++ cannot be read by CPUs, so the code must be compiled and converted into bytecode.

Ethereum is a distributed global network with 100 CPUs executing the EVM concurrently, not a CPU. However, the Go Ethereum, or “Geth,” application uses the EVM as a virtual CPU or “machine” that runs in the background.

Developers use a programming language to create DApps and write smart contracts, much like they do with other software products. Ethereum’s programming language is Solidity, not Java or C++. Each computer (node) running Geth receives a compilation of the Solidity code into bytecode.

Every node obtains a copy of a smart contract when it is deployed, executes its bytecode, and then passes the code to the person who requested the deployment, causing a “state change.” This indicates that the status of the blockchain has changed, which can only be done with the consensus of every node.

Thus, a “distributed state machine” is a term that is frequently used to describe an EVM. It keeps track of how the blockchain is changing with each transaction.

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