Ethereum scaling startup Optimism announces alpha release of its virtual machine

Quick Take

  • Optimism, the startup that develops Ethereum Layer2 scaling solution Optimistic Rollup, released the alpha version of the Optimistic Virtual Machine (OVM)
  • The OVM is a replica of Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) embedded inside of the EVM, which allows developers to use the same developer toolsets and smart contract languages when working with Optimistic Rollup 
  • Optimism raised a $3.5 million seed round from Paradigm and IDEO CoLab Ventures recently to help developers implement Optimistic Rollup

Ethereum research group Optimism launched today the alpha version of the Optimistic Virtual Machine (OVM), intended to support all smart contracts to be deployed on Optimistic Rollup chains, a layer-2 Ethereum scaling solution. 

A modification of the Ethereum Virtual Machine, OVM is the virtual machine for Optimistic Rollup. The virtual machine allows developers to deploy smart contracts on the layer-2 solution as they appear on Layer1, with the same tooling and smart contract languages like Solidity. 

The OVM was built as an L2-compatible virtual machine inside of the EVM. As such, OVM can run a fully virtualized EVM environment inside of the actual EVM and hence give developers a similar experience as interacting with the EVM. 

“Many layer 2 solutions, including ones that we ourselves have developed in the past, struggled with developer experience issues due to custom, non-standard tooling that presented massive learning curves… Our goal with the OVM is to make the developer experience completely unimpressive, and nearly invisible,” the startup said.

With Optimistic Rollup, transactions are executed entirely off the Ethereum base chain. Operators receive all submitted transactions, execute them, and publish the latest state to OVM, with the state root subsequently being posted to the base chain. Since the Optimistic Rollup scheme assumes all transactions to be valid, a fraud-proof step may be conducted on the Ethereum Layer1 chain to challenge certain transactions that may be invalid.

Formally known as the Plasma Group, Optimism closed the non-profit organization in January after raising a $3.5 million seed round from Paradigm and IDEO CoLab Ventures. It then relaunched as a for-profit startup to focus on developing Optimistic Rollup. 

At the time, Optimism CEO Jinglan Wang told The Block that the new company will focus on helping developers implement the rollup solution. The alpha release of OVM is the first step towards that direction. 

“The OVM is arguably the most difficult part of building a fully EVM compatible, generalized smart contract scaling solution. However, there’s still an enormous amount of work to be done,” the blog post stated.

Starting today, developers can begin deploying smart contracts using OVM and report bugs. However, since the alpha version is only a sandboxed environment for developers to test their contract deployment and migration, Optimism will not enable deposits and withdrawal via OVM until later. 

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