The Dawn of Modular Blockchains: A New Era for Crypto Development


Exploring the Potential Upside of AltVMs and the Shift Away from Ethereum Maximalism

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High Rollers:

As an Ethereum maximalist, I now find myself drawn towards the potential of modular blockchains and alternative virtual machines (altVMs).

This shift, I believe, is not just a trend but a significant step forward in the evolution of blockchain technology, promising cheaper transactions, diverse developer onboarding, and long-term innovation.

In this post, we’ll delve into the world of modular blockchains, explore the benefits of moving away from Ethereum as the Data Availability (DA) layer for rollups, and discuss the potential upside that lies ahead.

Let’s embark on this journey of discovery together.


The Rollup

๐— ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ธ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฑ, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜„๐—ต๐˜† ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ก๐—˜๐—˜๐—— ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜๐—ฉ๐— ๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜€…

Once upon a time, you could say I was an Ethereum maxi.

I mean, undoubtedly being a part of the community has been one of the best decisions Iโ€™ve made in my life.

The ethos. The culture. The innovation. The impact.

Itโ€™s all there.

However, if I may, the modular thesis I presently have with regards to virtual machines (known as VMs) is actually trending away from EVM, but not necessarily Ethereum…

In todays post, youโ€™ll learn the 3 key modular takeaways from Devconnect, what about altVMs that really excites me, and why I believe this vertical is one with tons of upside ๐Ÿ‘‡

Iโ€™ll open this thesis post with a question:

What if you could onboard developers from different backgrounds to build the next killer app within crypto, on rollups, using programming languages that work seamlessly, in a secure fashion within any settlement layer?

A bit of a mouthful, but the underlying thesis of altVMs comes from each segment in that question.

๐—ง๐—ผ ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ธ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ณ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ, ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜€ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—บ๐˜† ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜€:

1. Modular chains are far superior to monolithic chains for a variety of reasons.

Up until now, the majority (if not all) of blockchains weโ€™ve interacted with are monolithic. The important functions of execution, settlement, and data availability/consensus occur under the same ‘roof’ so to speak.

With modular blockchains, as seen at Modular Day 2023 by Celestia and Hyperlane, this design is changing for the better.

Not only did Celestia just launch their data availability (DA) layer, but other DA solutions such as AvailProject, NEAR Protocol, and Eigen Layer are reaching mainnet imminently.

Why is this important?

Moving away from Ethereum as the DA layer for rollups provides insanely cheaper txs. When I asked Illia about this during EpicWeb3 ETH Infra day, he made a point to ensure this was echoed.

๐˜›๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ๐˜ด ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ต๐˜‹๐˜ˆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜บ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ค๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต.

The UX which results from this is something to get excited about.

2. Solidity is not the ideal programming language for developers.

The reality is there are thousands of developers who have never heard of solidity. There are thousands of separate developers who know multiple languages, but not solidity.

I can go on and on, but my point here is:

If we, as a community, want to onboard tons of new developers to really reach the tipping point for adoption & innovation, we need alternatives.

Rust, Go, Move, Javascript, Python, Linux and more are some which come to mind where there is a large developer base of builders who can definitely be recruited.

In fact, I half-jokingly recall suggesting Cartesi to figure out how to get into university blockchain circles and tap into those clubs and developer communities to recruit them into building atop Cartesi.

โ€œ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜จ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ข ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จโ€

3. EVM is effective, but other virtual machine infrastructures have distinct advantages which allows for greater flexibility, security, and thus, innovation.

This last part may cause a bit of pushback from the community, but its an issue we have to face head onโ€ฆ

Security in DeFi using solidity based smart contracts has been exploited to absolute shreds.

Weโ€™ve seen tons of hacks, attacks, and exploits due to poorly written code, lack of proper auditing, and smart contracts with tons of bugs.

One cannot blame the EVM for this, but one can inquire what different VMs have to offer from a security and simplicity perspective.

You see, the EVM is relatively new in terms of infra. While it comes with a host of tooling for developers, itโ€™s actually somewhat limited in its capabilities and has some pitfalls (and many benefits too!!).

Alternative VMs, or altVMs, offer a more battle tested, lindy toolkit of developer resources. They often come with tons of pre-written codebases and frameworks to build atop of.

Instead diving too deep into the weeds and writing in the abstract, Iโ€™ll present you with an altVM which Iโ€™m quite bullish on and have had the pleasure to work with first hand.

That project is Movement Labs, who is building MoveVM, a VM based on the code created by Facebook when they were planning to launch their token.

At the core of Movement Labs’ is the M1, a community-first L1 partnering with Avalanche.

M1 enables builders to natively tap into big dApps like BenqiFinance and GMX, other subnets, and protocols through Avalanche Warp Messaging.

It’s not just about high transaction speeds, it’s about providing instant finality, native access to mass liquidity, and modular customizations that cater to the needs of builders.

Move protocols can expect to have interoperability and tap into the liquidity of traditionally-EVM protocols.

Movementโ€™s formal verification system audits and maintains secure smart contract execution across distributed environments, while living within a native Ethereum ecosystem.

๐˜๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ฌ๐˜ด ๐˜ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ต, ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข ๐˜ฉ๐˜ถ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ท๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜”๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜๐˜” ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜Œ๐˜๐˜”.

Last week, Movement Labs, announced a collaboration with Celestia, a pioneer in the modular blockchain world.

This partnership aims to help builders launch Move-based L2s within the Ethereum Ecosystem, pairing Ethereum’s liquidity and interoperability with Move-Based Blockchains using Celestia for DA, as seen below.

The M2 mainnet is setup to be become the first Ethereum L2 which integrates Celestia for Data Availability, Snowman for Shared Sequencing, and the Move Virtual Machine for execution.

๐˜๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฅ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ณ, ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ป๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜บ ๐˜ง๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ท๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ด.

The collaboration between Movement and Celestia enables builders to launch secure, performant, and scalable modular blockchains leveraging an open framework for Move development.

Today, Movement announced another partnership with Avail Project to use their DA layer for move based rollups.

The benefits of taking DA off-chain with Avail, while utilizing an altVM like Movement Labs is a no brainer:

Movement brings their M1, with a decentralized sequncer along with Move based rollups and a burgeoning, compatible ecosystem for Avail to be utilized.

Avail helps to decrease costs significantly and increases throughput for Move based rollups by moving DA offchain and bringing a solid ecosystem and partners to the MoveVM ecosystem.


๐—ง๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—น๐—ถ๐—พ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜๐˜†, ๐—น๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ ๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—จ๐—ซ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น.

Beyond the Move Stack and M2 Rollups, the Movement SDK also supports Fractal, a feature that enables Solidity applications to tap into Move’s performance and security benefits without needing to write Move code.

Moreover, developers can employ Movement validators within the Snowman consensus framework to link their rollups to the shared sequencing network.

The Movement SDK addresses annoying UX fragmentations by streamlining the management of multi-chain deployments, offering a cohesive experience for both developers and users.

Ethereum applications aiming to boost their performance and security for upcoming adoption waves will find Fractal an invaluable tool to access the Move Stack and its advantages without departing from their native network.

This is what I mean by the trend is shifting away from EVM, but not necessarily Ethereum.

While M1 is built with Ava Labs, the idea is that altVMs can be plugged into any rollup and use Ethereum as the settlement layer.

Using Etheruem for DA and execution isn’t the path forward for the modular blockchain community.

๐—ง๐—ผ ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—บ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฒ ๐—บ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ต๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜€:

AltVMs will have their hayday in 2024-2025 because of the ease of developer onboarding, prioritization of modularity, and ability to unlock extreme UX improvements.

While I still believe in the EVM, I surely do not believe in the sustainability of monolithic chains in crypto.

Modularity is here to stay.

There will be many, many developments in this space with tons of tokenless protocols, new partnerships, improved execution environments, and the influx of new developments.

All of this, underpinning the motto every great builder should embody:

๐˜”๐˜ฐ๐˜ฅ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ฎ, ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜น๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ฎ.

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