Plans to build a new version of the ethereum virtual machine (EVM) are moving ahead.

A group of developers is working to replace the existing EVM – which enables the utilization of scripts on ethereum – with one built on the WebAssembly, or wasm, programming language. WebAssembly was launched in 2015, backed by a team drawn from Google and Microsoft, among other companies.

In a new blog post published today, Martin Becze, the Ethereum Foundation’s JavaScript client developer, outlined the next stages of the eWASM initiative, which will include the launch of a test network sometime this year.

According to Becze, that testnet will serve as a hub for continued experimentation, including work on a planned shift to a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm, dubbed Casper.

Becze wrote:

“The testnet work will: enable hands-on work with eWASM for a wider audience…[and] enable related work, such as experiments with Casper to be done by providing a flexible platform for experimentation.”

The eWASM implementation has many perceived advantages. The language change would allow for script executions at “near-native speed” by taking advantage of hardware capabilities. This would further enable a wide array of uses that typically require high performance and throughput capacity.

According to the blog post, the eWASM team is also developing tools to support the incorporation of WebAssembly, as well as a further integration with the Solidity smart contract programming language in preparation of a future hackathon.

Image via Shutterstock

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