In a nutshell, a Virtual Machine (VM) is the blueprint for a blockchain, meaning it defines the application-level logic of a blockchain. In technical terms, it specifies the blockchain’s state, state transition function, transactions, and the API through which users can interact with the blockchain.
You can use the same VM to create many blockchains, each of which follows the same rule-set but is independent of all others.
Why Run a VM on Avalanche?
Developers with advanced use-cases for utilizing distributed ledger technology are often forced to build their own blockchain from scratch, re-implement complex abstractions like networking and consensus, all before even being able to start working on their new application.
Developers can create a VM that defines how their blockchain should behave, and use this blueprint to coordinate validators in the network to run the application.
VMs can be written in any language, and use libraries and tech stacks that its creator is familiar with. Developers have fine control over the behavior of their blockchain, and can redefine the rules of a blockchain to fit any use-case they have.
Developers don't need to concern themselves with lower-level logic like networking, consensus, and the structure of the blockchain. Avalanche does this behind the scenes so you can focus on building your Dapp, your ecosystem, and your community.
How VMs Work
VMs communicate with Avalanche over a language agnostic request-response protocol known as RPC. This allows the VM framework to open a world of endless possibilities, as developers can implement their Dapps using the languages, frameworks, and libraries of their choice. To get started, create a VM out-of-the-box with the Subnet-EVM in Solidity, or design a custom VM with languages like Golang, Rust, and many more.
Running a VM
All Avalanche validators as members of the Avalanche Primary Network are required to run three VMs:
- Coreth: Defines the Contract Chain (C-Chain); supports smart contract functionality and is EVM-compatible.
- Platform VM: Defines the Platform Chain (P-Chain); supports operations on staking and Subnets.
- Avalanche VM: Defines the Exchange Chain (X-Chain); supports operations on Avalanche Native Tokens.
All three can easily be run on any computer with AvalancheGo.
Validators can install additional VMs on their node to validate additional Subnets in the Avalanche ecosystem. In exchange, validators receive staking rewards in the form of a reward token determined by the Subnets.
Avalanche natively supports the execution of Ethereum smart contracts written in solidity. Ethereum developers have the option of deploying their smart contracts on the C-Chain's implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (Coreth), or on their own Subnet using the Subnet-EVM for advanced use cases that require more customization.
Both C-Chain and the Subnet-EVM are compatible with Ethereum tooling like Remix, Core, MetaMask, thirdweb, and more.
To learn more about smart contract support, click here.
- An implementation of the EVM that powers the Avalanche C-Chain that supports Solidity smart contracts.
- An implementation of the EVM that can be deployed to a custom Subnet to support Solidity smart contracts
- A decentralized timestamp server
- An example of Avalanche Warp Messaging that implements Cross-Subnet asset transfers
See here for a tutorial on How to Build a Simple Golang VM
The following VMs were built using Rust via the Avalanche Rust SDK
- TimestampVM RS
- A Rust implementation of TimestampVM
See here for a tutorial on How to Build a Simple Rust VM