EVM and Non-EVM Chains: What is the Difference?

EVM and Non-EVM Chains: What is the Difference?

Discover the distinctions between EVM and non-EVM blockchains: understand their unique advantages, impact on developers, and role in shaping the future of blockchain...

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To EVM or not to EVM is the question! Did we do Hamlet in blockchain? But don’t the developers face the ‘Hamlet’s dilemma’ when choosing between EVM and non-EVM chains? 

Yes, for blockchain developers, it is often hard to determine whether to go for an EVM-compatible network or a non-EVM network. We’ll uncover the key differences between EVM vs. Non-EVM chains which can be used as an educational source to decide between the two.

First things first. Before we get down to discuss EVM, we’ll need to understand what are smart contracts and dapps.

Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into lines of code, which are deployed on a blockchain. They automatically enforce and execute the conditions of a contract when predetermined rules are met, without the need for intermediaries. Decentralized applications (dapps) are applications that run on a blockchain network, leveraging the capabilities of smart contracts to offer services that are decentralized and tamper-resistant. These dapps can range from financial tools to games, all operating on a blockchain’s secure and transparent infrastructure. Smart contracts are the building blocks or backend of these dapps, enabling them to function autonomously and reliably in a decentralized ecosystem.

What is Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and How is it Important?

The EVM is a runtime environment for executing smart contracts in a secure and decentralized manner across the largest smart contract platform, Ethereum. Some examples of runtime environments in Web2 include web browsers like Chrome, Node.js, Java Virtual Machine. Each of these environments is designed to execute code written in specific programming languages, providing the necessary libraries and tools needed for the code to run correctly.

Let’s understand what runtime environment entails in layman terms.

A runtime environment is like a stage where a play (software program) is performed. Just as a play needs a script and stage with lights, sound, and props to be performed in front of an audience, a software program needs a runtime environment to run on a computer or device. Let’s now understand each of them in detail.

  • The Play: This is the software program or app you want to use, like a word processor, game, or mobile app. In our case, it is the dapps.
  • The Script: Just as a script outlines the actions, dialogues, and events that happen on stage under certain conditions, a smart contract specifies the rules, conditions, and outcomes of an agreement in code. When these conditions are met, the smart contract automatically executes the specified actions, much like how actors follow a script during a play.
  • The Stage: This is the runtime environment. It provides the necessary setting and tools for the software (dapps) to work. This includes managing the program’s memory (smart contract executions), helping it interact with the operating system (base or layer 1 blockchain), and ensuring that all the parts of the program can talk to each other and work together smoothly.
  • The Audience: These are the users who interact with the software program (dapps).

So, a runtime environment is essential for any software to run properly, just like a stage is essential for a play to be performed. It creates the right conditions and provides the necessary support for the software to operate as intended.

EVM, in particular, executes smart contracts written in specific programming languages like Solidity or Vyper, ensuring they run exactly as programmed without downtime, censorship, fraud, or third-party interference. EVM operates in a decentralized environment, where multiple nodes (computers) across the Ethereum network execute the same smart contract to reach consensus. Its operation within the blockchain network ensures unparalleled security and resistance to tampering, fostering a trustless environment crucial for applications like DeFi and DEX. Additionally, the EVM supports a diverse range of programming languages and tools, nurturing a rich decentralized ecosystem of developers and fostering innovation across the Ethereum platform.

What is the Difference Between EVM and Non-EVM Chains?

EVM Compatible Chains

EVM-compatible blockchains are those that can run smart contracts and decentralized applications (dapps) designed for the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). This compatibility means they can execute the same code written for Ethereum, allowing for interoperability of dapps across different blockchain platforms.

Blockchains choose to be EVM-compatible for several reasons:

  • Developer Familiarity: There’s a large pool of developers already skilled in creating dapps for Ethereum. EVM compatibility attracts these developers to build on new platforms without needing to learn a new programming language or environment.
  • Interoperability: EVM compatibility facilitates easier movement and interaction of applications and assets across different blockchain networks, enhancing the overall ecosystem’s connectivity and utility.
  • Proven Technology: Ethereum’s EVM is a time-tested platform with a robust infrastructure, making it a reliable standard for other blockchains to emulate for smart contract functionality.
  • Low Entry Barrier for New Developers: By providing a familiar and well-documented environment, based on the widely-adopted Ethereum standards, EVM chains make it easier for beginners to start developing decentralized applications or dapps and acquire the existing Web3 user base. This accessibility is crucial for nurturing fresh talent and fostering a diverse developer community in the rapidly evolving world of blockchain technology.
  • Facilitating Transition from Web2 to Web3: EVM-compatible blockchains offer tools and resources that ease the transition for Web2 developers into the Web3 space. By providing comprehensive documentation, developer support communities, and compatibility layers, EVM blockchains can help Web2 developers leverage their existing skills and gradually adapt to the nuances of blockchain development, thus bridging the gap between traditional and decentralized web technologies.

By being EVM-compatible, these blockchains can leverage Ethereum’s mature ecosystem and developer community, while also contributing to the broader blockchain ecosystem’s growth and interoperability. Examples of EVM blockchains include Avalanche, Shardeum, Polygon, Arbitrum among others.

Non-EVM Chains

Non-EVM blockchains are those that do not adhere to the standards and specifications set by Ethereum’s EVM for smart contracts and decentralized applications (dapps). They often use different programming languages, consensus mechanisms, or architectural designs.

Blockchains choose to be non-EVM compatible for various reasons:

  • Innovation and Specialization: By deviating from the EVM standard, these blockchains can innovate and develop unique features or optimizations that cater to specific use cases, such as improved scalability, energy efficiency, or security enhancements.
  • Diversified Ecosystems: Non-EVM blockchains contribute to a more diverse blockchain ecosystem by providing alternatives to Ethereum’s approach, which can be beneficial for certain applications and industries.
  • Custom Programming Languages and Environments: These blockchains often have their own native programming languages and environments, which can offer advantages in terms of ease of use, security, or functionality tailored to their specific blockchain architecture.
  • Attracting Web2 Developers: Non-EVM blockchains present a unique opportunity to attract developers from the traditional Web2 sphere, who are vast in number. By offering different programming languages and development environments that may be more familiar or accessible to those with a background in conventional web development, these blockchains can tap into a broader talent pool, encouraging innovation and diversification in blockchain development.

By choosing to be non-EVM, these blockchains can carve out unique niches, address specific market needs, and foster innovation outside the Ethereum framework. Examples of non-EVM blockchains include Bitcoin, Solana, Cardano among others.

👉Excited to learn the concept of EVM Compatible? Check our detailed guide on What are EVM Compatible Blockchains.


In conclusion, understanding the differences between EVM and non-EVM chains is crucial in navigating the diverse landscape of blockchain technology. EVM chains offer compatibility with Ethereum’s established framework, attracting a rich developer community and fostering interoperability. It can also help traditional developers to seamlessly transition to Web3 and blockchain technology. Non-EVM chains, on the other hand, provide opportunities for innovation and specialization, appealing to a broader range of developers, including those from traditional Web2 backgrounds. Ultimately, the choice between EVM and non-EVM chains depends on the specific needs of a project and its alignment with the unique advantages each type of blockchain offers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What Does EVM Crypto Mean?

Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is a computation engine at the core of all of the Ethereum network. It executes smart contracts on the network and computes the state of the network after a new block has been added to the blockchain. All the crypto platforms compatible with this computation engine can be considered a part of the EVM crypto network. In the whole EVM vs. Non-EVM chains debate, EVM compatible blockchains have gotten a lot of appreciation from the blockchain community because of the interoperability of the smart contracts implemented upon them.

2. What Does It Mean To Be EVM Compatible? 

EVM compatibility refers to a blockchain having the power to write and deploy smart contacts that are compatible with the EVM or the Ethereum Virtual Machine and are thus recognized by nodes within the Ethereum network. EVM compatibility allows many blockchains like Polygon, Avalanche, Binance Smart Chain, Harmony and Fantom to lower the entry barrier for developers and deploy smart contracts on the new chains since their underlying codes are compatible with Ethereum. Therefore, EVM chains can provide solutions to enable interoperability between the blockchain networks and the dapps based on the Ethereum principles. 

3. Which Blockchain is not EVM Compatible? 

Solana, Cardano, Bitcoin etc. are examples of Non EVM blockchains.

4. Which Crypto Has EVM? 

Avalanche, Polygon, Fantom networks are some of the examples of crypto with EVM compatibility. These networks allow better interoperability with the Ethereum blockchain so that the users can enjoy the effortless movement of assets from one chain to another within the ecosystem. Such chains also allow for lower entry barriers to the Ethereum developers.

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