Ethereum 2.0 EWASM. Move to Serenity

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In this multi part article on next release of Ethereum, I will cover the next major component EWASM.

Before diving into EWASM we have cover some basic concepts on Ethereum. As opposed to Bitcoin, Ethereum is not just a cryptocurrency. It provides a blockchain platform to execute smart contacts.

Smart contacts in Ethereum are typically coded in Solidity which is a contract-oriented high-level language with the syntax very similar to Javascript. The smart contracts written is solidy are then compiled and converted into an assembly.

This assembly is then executed on top of the EVM, (The Ethereum Virtual Machine). The EVM is a simple but powerful Turing complete 256bit Virtual Machine. The Ethereum can be seen as a giant computer distributed one several nodes across the globe.

So what is EWASM ?

EWASM stands for Ethereum WebAssembly. It is the a new virtual machine based on WebAssembly that will replace EVM.

Webassembly or wasm is a new portable, size and load-time-efficient format suitable for compilation to the web. It has been defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as an open standard. You can think of it as a bridge where you can write your code in C/C++/Rust Go or any other language and run it on your browser as its binary instruction format is natively supported by JavaScript engines.

Code written in any language like C/C++ is converted in webAssembly text .wat. The it is compiled into a .wasm binary format which is then executed on top of the wasm virtual machine.

A big advantage of WebAssembly is that it is a stack based virtual machine allowing it to adopt easily to underly architecture making it more performant providing close to native performance

WebAssembly provides a lot of advantages

  1. Smart contract execution will be much faster
  2. Smart contract development can be done in C/C++/Rust/Go or any other language. This would speed up adoption as these languages have a large user base.
  3. Wasm community is very large and it is backed by big boys in the I.T industry like Apple, Microsoft and Google.

All this improvement comes with its set of complications. It is still unclear how smart contracts written to run in EVM will be migrated to EWASM. If an interpreter contract will be available to execute a smart contract written for EVM to execute in EWASM.

WebAssembly will be a widely used platform in the future and embracing it is a good choice for the Ethereum infrastructure.

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