Web3 world is becoming more competitive, and the niche of smart contracts is no exception. For a usual onlooker, the dev side is accelerating at unparalleled speeds towards innovation. The insiders, however, know: the industry has been in a long running “smart contract Virtual Machine (VM) war,” with different blockchain platforms advocating for their own smart contract VMs. What does this mean?
Virtual Machine, in a nutshell, creates a virtual environment that allows programs to run as if they are running on a physical machine, even if they are not.
Wasm, on the other hand, is a new technology that is becoming very popular in the Web3 space. It is a low-level bytecode format that is designed to run on virtual machines, including smart contract VMs. This new format allows developers to write programs in a variety of programming languages and compile them into a single binary format that can run on any platform.
So why is Wasm so popular? And how will this war affect the web3 world?
Here at Dandelion, we’re always excited to answer such questions. Let’s dig into this topic together with Joy Osive, our WASM Lead.
Competition for dominance
Blockchain platforms have been advocating for their own smart contract VMs. This led to a long-running “smart contract VM war” in the industry. Here are some of the notable smart contract VMs built on Wasm:
- Ethereum WebAssembly (eWasm) VM. Ethereum is transitioning from its original smart contract language, Solidity, to this Wasm-based VM.
- Polkadot Runtime Environment (PRE). Polkadot’s smart contract VM is built on Wasm and provides a sandboxed environment for executing smart contracts.
- Near VM. NEAR Protocol has an optimized VM for speed and low gas fees, making it a popular choice for developers building high-throughput applications.
Things are changing quickly in the ecosystem and each VM has its pros and cons. The main reason for the buzz is that Wasm is better than traditional VMs in several ways. But what are those ways exactly?
The advantages of Wasm
Here are the three main reasons why Wasm-based VMs are widely adopted.
- Platform-agnostic design. Wasm can run on a wide range of devices and operating systems.
- Ahead-of-time compilation. Wasm code is compiled ahead of time, making it faster and more efficient than traditional VMs. This is especially important for high-throughput applications like decentralized exchanges and games.
- Sandboxed execution. Wasm code is executed in a sandboxed environment, making it less vulnerable to attacks that could compromise the security of the entire network.
All of these factors have contributed to the popularity and widespread adoption of Wasm-based VMs.
Why “VM wars” is a step towards the future
Despite the dramatic name, this competition benefits developers as it encourages innovation and drives the creation of new tools, languages, and frameworks that simplify the development of decentralized applications. The “VM wars” create an ecosystem of diverse, competitive platforms that offer developers the freedom to choose the best platform for their specific needs.
The end goal is the same for all platforms, including Dandelion: to create a decentralized ecosystem that is secure, fast, and efficient. With this in mind, the Wasm-based VMs are working towards interoperability and standardization to ensure seamless communication between different platforms.