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Parallelized EVMs May Solve Blockchain Trilemma, But It’s Risky Business

According to projections by Fortune Business Insights, the global market size for blockchain technology is anticipated to soar to $469.49 billion by 2030. Despite the immense potential offered by blockchain, several hurdles could impede its widespread adoption.

One prominent obstacle is the “blockchain trilemma,” which remains a significant concern for both developers and users of Web3. This concept suggests that achieving the three core objectives of blockchain—decentralization, security, and scalability—simultaneously might be unattainable. Enhancing one aspect often comes at the expense of weakening another, creating a delicate balance that challenges blockchain’s full potential.

Can Parallelized EVMs Solve Blockchain Trilemma?

Despite the longstanding presence of the blockchain trilemma, innovative solutions are emerging to confront these obstacles head-on.

A notable example is the introduction of parallelized Ethereum Virtual Machines (EVMs), which aim to tackle scalability concerns prevalent within the Ethereum network.

Tom McClean, a Senior Researcher at Vega Protocol, highlighted that traditional EVM networks, including Ethereum and many of its layer-2 networks (L2s), typically operate by processing transactions sequentially. However, McClean emphasized that this sequential processing approach imposes limitations such as increased hardware demands, constrained transaction throughput, and a failure to leverage advancements in multi-core processing technologies.

“Parallelized EVMs aim to mitigate this issue by executing transactions concurrently, offering the potential for a significant boost in processing speed,” explained McClean. “In theory, this advancement can result in an overall faster blockchain.”

Recognizing this transformative potential, Matt Ballensweig, Head of Go Network—a digital asset settlement solution offered by BitGo—expressed that parallelized EVMs hold the promise of resolving the blockchain trilemma.

“Parallelized EVMs have the capability to drastically reduce transaction latency, enable lower transaction fees, and foster interoperability,” he remarked.

Ballensweig highlighted the efforts of platforms such as Neon, Sei Network, and Monad, which are actively developing parallelized EVM solutions to enhance the interoperability and performance of networks like Solana and Ethereum.

Neon Parallelized EVM to Bring dApps to Solana

Sukanya Parashar, Senior Integration Engineer at Neon, revealed that Neon EVM stands as the pioneering EVM operational on Solana’s mainnet.

Parashar elucidated that Neon’s parallelized EVM innovation facilitates simultaneous transaction processing without compromising network security and decentralization—effectively addressing the blockchain trilemma.

The solution’s effectiveness stems from its utilization of a state sharding mechanism, which divides blockchain data into partitions.

“This approach targets the scalability bottleneck, facilitating increased transaction throughput while upholding decentralized consensus,” Parashar affirmed.

Parashar further elaborated that the primary objective behind Neon EVM is to facilitate the deployment of Ethereum-based decentralized applications (dApps) on Solana without necessitating any alterations to their code. This integration would empower developers and users to harness the scalability and parallel processing capabilities offered by the Solana network.

“Numerous dApps spanning decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and gaming have already been launched on Neon EVM,” Parashar disclosed. “Among these dApps, some are native to Neon EVM, while others originate from the EVM ecosystem and have expanded to Neon EVM to capitalize on Solana’s liquidity and network advantages.”

This initiative holds significance, as Parashar emphasized that a considerable segment of Solana’s user base, liquidity, and community remains untapped by EVM-based dApps.

Parashar expressed optimism that Neon’s parallelized EVM solution could address this gap, underscoring that Solana represents the largest non-EVM ecosystem.

“As the fourth-largest chain by Total Value Locked, boasting over 20 million monthly active users and a robust DeFi ecosystem, Solana holds immense potential,” she remarked. “In essence, we believe that Neon EVM presents the most straightforward pathway for EVM dApps to access Solana.”

Sei Labs Working On Interoperable Parallelized EVM

Startup Sei Labs has recently unveiled a parallelized EVM named “Sei V2,” marking its first significant upgrade to achieve the status of the first fully parallelized EVM. A blog post detailing the solution states, “Sei V2 represents Sei’s inaugural major upgrade, positioning it as the pioneer in fully parallelized EVM technology.”

Grover, Head of Marketing at Sei Labs, informed about several distinctive features embedded within Sei V2. “The foremost feature is ‘Twin Turbo Consensus,’ enabling Sei to achieve the fastest time to finality among all blockchains, thereby unlocking web2-like experiences for applications,” he elaborated.

Furthermore, Grover highlighted that Sei V2 incorporates optimistic parallelization, enabling developers to activate parallel processing for Ethereum applications seamlessly, without requiring additional effort. This ensures that Sei’s EVM solution boasts full interoperability.

Additionally, Grover disclosed that the upgraded Sei database is poised to significantly enhance Sei’s capacity for data storage, a crucial aspect for a high-performance blockchain.

“The launch of the Sei mainnet is slated for the second quarter of this year,” Grover confirmed.

Monad introduces Optimistic Parallel Execution

Keone Hon, CEO and Co-Founder of Monad, shared that “Optimistic Parallel Execution” stands as one of several significant enhancements Monad has implemented to scale the EVM rapidly.

Although still in the developmental phase, Hon outlined Optimistic Parallel Execution’s operation in two stages.

“In the initial stage, multiple transactions operate concurrently as if they all originated from the same initial state,” Hon explained. “For each transaction, Monad executes bytecode, retrieves dependencies from disk, and records a pending result containing input and output state variables for that transaction.”

Hon further elucidated that in the subsequent stage, pending results are then finalized and committed in the original order of the transactions.

“Each pending result is promptly accepted if its inputs remain unchanged, or promptly re-executed if any inputs have been modified,” he clarified.

Hon is confident that Monad can attain the identical end state as if transactions were processed sequentially, thereby ushering in substantial time savings.

“This guarantees complete backwards compatibility with Ethereum,” Hon emphasized. “Achieving efficient parallel execution necessitates tackling the primary bottleneck for execution, which is state access.”

Hon revealed that these optimizations tailored for the Ethereum community will be rolled out later this year.

Risks Involved with Parallelized EVMs

While the potential benefits of parallelized EVMs are significant, they come with a range of associated risks.

“Despite the evident advantages and rapid advancement of parallelized EVMs within the broader ecosystem, it’s essential to address specific risks, such as heightened technical intricacy and potential security vulnerabilities,” noted Ballensweig.

Parashar highlighted that the complexities of parallel processing pose significant challenges in system implementation.

“The introduction of multitasking and multiprocessor configurations increases the risk of system failures,” she explained. “In blockchain networks like Solana, parallel transaction execution adds layers of complexity, which can result in potential errors and service interruptions.”

Parashar emphasized the critical importance of ensuring accurate state updates across multiple threads to prevent any unauthorized alterations.

She further noted that the inherent complexities of parallel and concurrent computing exacerbate challenges, particularly within blockchain networks containing cryptographic components.

Grover highlighted the significant hurdle facing Sei in upgrading its blockchain network with forthcoming parallelized EVM features.

“Implementing these upgrades will be akin to changing the wings of a plane mid-flight, but Sei Labs is prepared for the challenge,” he affirmed.

However, Alejo Pinto, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Pontem, a development studio specializing in EVM products, voiced reservations.

“While parallelized EVM represents an incremental advancement, its reliability remains relatively untested,” Pinto cautioned. “Although it facilitates the migration of all code developed with EVM, alternative virtual machines like parallelized EVMs must undergo thorough production testing before developers and users are willing to embrace them.”

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