The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is an essential part of the Ethereum network. It is a virtual environment where all the Ethereum accounts and smart contracts (self-executing code that automatically enforce the rules of an agreement between parties) exist and operate.
Recently, it was announced that InfinitySwap is developing the world's first Bitcoin-enabled Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). And, it occurred to me that many #INFINISWAPPERS are likely unfamiliar with the concept of an EVM and do not yet know what it means for an EVM to be Bitcoin-enabled.
So, let's dive in and learn together! I'll be pulling most of my information from ethereum.org's technical documentation but reframing it in a popular form.
Ethereum Virtual Machine Basics
The Concept of a Virtual Machine
The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is an essential part of the Ethereum network. It is a virtual environment where all the Ethereum accounts and smart contracts (self-executing code that automatically enforces the rules of an agreement between parties) exist and operate. Think of it as a computer inside a computer - the Ethereum network is the main computer and the EVM is a computer inside it, running its own set of rules and regulations.
If you took computer science courses during high school in the early aughts or know how to program in Java, you're probably familiar with the general concept of a virtual machine. Instead of tweaking the way code is compiled on different platforms, developers design things to work on a virtual machine (VM) and leave it to the creators of the VM to figure out how to run the VM on different platforms.
Bytes, Memory, Stacks, and Tries
To understand the EVM, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of some computer science terms like bytes, memory, and stack. A byte is a unit of digital information that can store a single character. Memory is the place in a computer where information is stored temporarily while a computer program is running. A stack is a data structure that stores items in a last-in-first-out (LIFO) order.
Cryptography and blockchain concepts like hash functions and trie are also important to understand the EVM. A hash function is a mathematical function that takes an input (or 'message') and returns a fixed-size string of bytes. The trie is a tree-like data structure that is used to store large amounts of data in a way that is efficient for searching and retrieving data.
The Ethereum state is stored in a data structure called a modified Merkle Patricia Trie. It is a special type of trie that keeps all Ethereum accounts linked by hashes and reduces all the information to a single root hash stored on the blockchain. Transactions are instructions sent from one Ethereum account to another, and they must be cryptographically signed to ensure their authenticity. There are two types of transactions: those that result in a message call to a smart contract and those that result in the creation of a new smart contract.
The EVM executes like a stack machine, meaning it processes items in a last-in-first-out order. The EVM uses a memory space called transient memory, which is used to store information temporarily while a smart contract is running. Smart contracts also have their own storage space in the form of a Merkle Patricia storage trie, which is part of the global state of the Ethereum network.
When a smart contract is executed, it runs as a series of EVM instructions called opcodes. These opcodes perform basic math operations like XOR, AND, ADD, and SUB. The EVM also has special instructions that are specific to the blockchain, such as checking the address of an account, checking the balance of an account, and finding the hash of a block.
Conclusion: Bitcoin-enabled EVM
To recap, the EVM is a vital component of the Ethereum network, responsible for executing smart contracts and maintaining the state of the Ethereum network. Understanding the EVM and its role in the Ethereum protocol can give a better appreciation of the power and capabilities of Ethereum as a decentralized platform for building and executing smart contracts.
But what about InfinitySwap's World's-First Bitcoin-enabled EVM? What about HTTP outcalls?
Thanks to direct integration with Bitcoin via ckBTC, smart contracts created within the EVM that InfinitySwap is building on the Internet Computer will be able to interact with BTC natively on the Bitcoin network without relying on any intermediary services. This will be the
For the first time, DeFi will be able to securely and easily combine the power of smart contracts with the value of Bitcoin! HTTP outcalls will also allow the seamless integration of web2 with the other added benefits of high speed and low costs, making an EVM built on the Internet Computer the place to deploy your dApps for a brave new world of possibilities.
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