Solana Virtual Machine (SVM)

The Solana Virtual Machine, or SVM, is the system powering Solana’s ability to handle thousands of transactions per second.


What Is the Solana Virtual Machine (SVM)?

The Solana Virtual Machine, or SVM, is the system powering Solana’s ability to handle thousands of transactions per second. 
In simple terms, SVM is Solana’s execution environment. It’s the software that runs and processes all the transactions and smart contracts happening on the network. You can think of it like a decentralized computer processing power distributed across all the nodes validating transactions on Solana.

SVM helps with the initiation of a transaction on Solana by executing the required code and modifying Solana’s state accordingly.

How Does the Solana Virtual Machine (SVM) Work?

SVM isn’t one centralized system – it operates as separate instances  (called validators) across the nodes validating transactions on Solana. Each validator runs its own isolated version of SVM locally. 

This distributed arrangement is vital for security and scalability. It means if there’s a bug in a smart contract, it won’t crash the whole network. And it enables Solana to spread the workload across many parallel processors, rather than being constrained to one centralized server.

These SVM instances execute the transactions and smart contracts by translating the code into instructions the validators’ hardware can comprehend. 

Although highly technical, the key takeaway is that SVM allows Solana to run complex programs in a distributed way across many nodes.

What Is Sealevel and How Does It Enable Parallel Processing in SVM?

Now here’s where things get really interesting! SVM’s secret weapon is called Sealevel. Never heard of it? Let’s shed some light.

Sealevel is like a turbocharger for transaction processing. It enables SVM to execute multiple transactions at the same time in parallel. 

Most networks can only process one transaction at a time, but Sealevel cracks the code on parallel processing. It identifies which transactions can run simultaneously without conflict.

This means if two transactions aren’t accessing the same data, Sealevel can handle them at the same time across the validators’ multi-core processors. 

How Are Smart Contracts Deployed and Executed on the Solana Virtual Machine? 

Alright, enough tech jargon. Let’s get practical. Say you just developed an amazing Solana smart contract. How does it actually run on SVM? 

When you deploy that smart contract, it publishes the code to all the validators across the network. Each one receives a copy.

The contract then starts executing. Whenever it needs to alter Solana’s state, like transferring tokens, it communicates those instructions to the Solana runtime. 

The runtime passes those requests along to all the individual SVMs, which then interpret and execute the instructions to actually update Solana’s state. 

What’s the Difference Between SVM and EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine)?

By now you may be thinking – isn’t this virtual machine concept similar to Ethereum’s EVM? Perceptive observation! SVMs and EVMs serve comparable purposes, but there are some key distinctions. 

The major one? Parallel processing capabilities. EVM employs a sequential design that can only process one transaction at a time. But as discussed earlier, SVM leverages Sealevel to enable simultaneous execution.

This means Solana can deliver vastly higher transaction volumes without getting congested. We’re talking thousands of transactions per second! 

What Causes Congestion and High Fees on EVM Blockchains?

This single-threaded limitation is a huge contributor to congestion and high fees on EVM chains. 

When transaction volume surges, EVM can’t scale up. Everything must be processed sequentially by that single core. The backlog accumulates, and users fiercely bid up gas fees trying to cut in line.

However, SVM and its parallel architecture can utilize more cores to efficiently manage spikes in traffic. The extra throughput prevents congestion and keeps fees low. 

SVM’s Localized Fee Markets vs EVM’s Global Fee Market 

Alright, last technical comparison – transaction fees.

EVM employs one global fee market across the entire network. With only one lane, activity in one dApp can jam up an unrelated dApp. 

But SVM supports localized fees for each transaction. So, an NFT trade won’t affect prices for a DeFi swap. 

This keeps network access fair and traffic moving smoothly. Plus, dApps can subsidize fees for their users if desired. 

What Emerging SVM Rollup Solutions Are Expanding the Reach of SVM?

Let’s shift gears and discuss SVM adoption. 

Lately, developers started building rollup solutions using SVM. Rollups bundle transactions off-chain before settling on Layer 1s like Ethereum. These allow developers to deploy SVM contracts on other chains while retaining Solana-level speeds.