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Parallelized EVMs: The Solana Killer?

Lincoln Murr

Summary: The biggest bottleneck to mass blockchain adoption has been for two reasons: user experience and infrastructure readiness. While the user experience has slowly been improving through concepts like account abstraction and consumer-friendly products, achieving high scalability and efficiency on blockchains is still being tackled. Parallelized EVMs, like Sei and Monad, aim to address blockchain scalability ...

The biggest bottleneck to mass blockchain adoption has been for two reasons: user experience and infrastructure readiness. While the user experience has slowly been improving through concepts like account abstraction and consumer-friendly products, achieving high scalability and efficiency on blockchains is still being tackled. Parallelized EVMs, like Sei and Monad, aim to address blockchain scalability by horizontally widening the single-lane transaction processing highway currently in use on all chains. Let’s dive into what a parallelized EVM is, why it’s important, and how Sei and Monad use it to create a potential Solana killer.

In a traditional blockchain like Ethereum, all transactions are executed sequentially, meaning they are done linearly, with one transaction coming after the other. While this is simple conceptually, it can lead to congestion if hundreds of thousands of transactions are waiting to be executed. Fortunately, there is a solution: allow nodes to execute different transactions simultaneously, then order them afterward. This is the basic concept of parallelizing the EVM and can be thought of as similar to when CPUs went from single-core to multi-core, drastically widening the number of applications and tasks that could be done simultaneously. 

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For those unaware, the EVM, or Ethereum Virtual Machine, can be considered the operating system that runs on the Ethereum chain. Each blockchain chooses an execution engine, which determines which languages the smart contracts are programmed in, interoperability, and general scalability. Ethereum’s VM has been adopted across various chains and Layer 2s, including Avalanche, Fantom, Optimism, and more, and is by far the most adopted VM. Solana uses its own VM, which programs contracts in the Rust language. While possible, creating interoperability between different VM-based chains is significantly more difficult than interactions between the same VM. Even though Solana is viewed as a cheap and fast chain with lots of retail activity, there have yet to be many applications ported from the EVM, like Uniswap or Aave, to Solana because of this developer barrier. For Ethereum to further expand its dominance, chains using the EVM must become faster and cheaper, exactly what parallelized EVM-based chains promise to do.

A parallelized EVM’s primary consideration is algorithmically determining which transactions can run simultaneously, which can be any two transactions that do not interact with one another. After execution, they are ordered based on what the blockchain’s consensus mechanism previously determined, ensuring proper and complete ordering. With this approach, EVM blockchains are sustainably able to scale to tens of thousands of transactions per second—around five times faster than using a rollup—while also providing developers with an Ethereum-friendly environment.

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The two main parallelized EVM projects are Sei and Monad. Sei was released in late 2023, though it is currently more focused on providing a centralized exchange-like experience in a decentralized environment through its twin-turbo consensus model, which is capable of quickly processing many exchange-related transactions. Their v2 aims to introduce parallelized EVM features, and their documentation indicates that they will be the first parallelized EVM in production. Monad, on the other hand, has yet to release, but is planning on introducing parallelization and pipelining, a similar feature that makes processing of transactions and consensus more efficient, in the near future. SEI’s token is currently trading at a $2 billion market capitalization. Monad has yet to release a token but has been valued at $3 billion in their latest venture capital raise and is expected to be a candidate for an airdrop to early adopters. 

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It would be remiss not to mention other solutions for scaling the EVM. For example, Shardeum uses a form of parallelized processing that scales with the number of nodes, promising the potential for 100k+ transactions per second. Fantom, an established project that’s been around for several years, is planning to release its Fantom Sonic upgrade in the coming months, which should drastically increase performance via general optimizations and improvements.

Parallelized EVMs promise to radically scale the EVM in a way that has never before been seen. By keeping Ethereum's developer experience and market dominance with Solana's performance, it will be possible to create never-before-seen applications and experiences. Though we still may be several months, if not years, away from their launch, the parallelized EVM is something to stay excited about and recognize as a pivotal moment in blockchain scaling.

By Lincoln Murr

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