Algorand Boosts Smart Contract Performance With ‘Virtual Machine’ Launch

The project is making the development process more in line with that of other networks.

Sep 29, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 14, 2021 at 1:49 a.m. UTC

Algorand smart contracts are getting a performance boost.

On Wednesday, the company behind the proof-of-stake blockchain released a back-end upgrade to increase the computing power of Algorand-based applications. Algorand Virtual Machine (AVM) will also make it easier for newcomers to develop programs atop the chain.

AVM brings Algorand smart contract development “closer to the mental model” developers on other blockchains are used to, Chief Product Officer Paul Riegle told CoinDesk. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is widely used, with EVM-compatibility being a key way for new networks like Avalanche and others to gain steam.

Getting more developers running faster code could be key for Algorand’s growth in the bustling decentralized finance (DeFi) landscape. It is the 29th-largest blockchain by total value locked, according to DeFi Llama, well behind Ethereum, Solana and Tron.

Riegle said AVM simplifies smart contracts’ treatment of escrow payments, their ability to send transactions and their handling of slippage in trades. It also improves on the complex math underpinning “complex DeFi applications,” he said, such as the authentication procedures protecting cross-chain mechanisms, or bridges.

One developer is building a bridge with 14 signature verifications, he said. (Riegle noted that 14 cross-checks is “pretty out on the tail” of what’s normal, and as such would require uncommonly high computing power). “We can support those kinds of things now,” he said.

Algorand supported some of those things before – in a far more piecemeal manner. AVM makes it simpler to join those previously disparate bits together, according to Riegle.

The self-imposed guardrails regulating how much computing power Algorand smart contracts can call are also getting a 16-fold raise. Riegle said the boost does not impact overall performance on the chain, which can process 1,000 transactions a second.

Coming rollouts will further juice performance 10- to 40-fold “at a minimum,” he said.

Correction (Oct. 14, 1:49 UTC): Corrects the spelling of Paul Riegle’s last name.

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Danny is a business reporter at CoinDesk.