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Getting Deep Into EVM: How Ethereum Works Backstage

EVM: 10,000 ft Perspective

Before diving into understanding how EVM works and seeing it working via code examples, let’s see where EVM fits in the Ethereum and what are its components. Don’t get scared by these diagrams because as soon as you are done reading this article you will be able to make a lot of sense out of these diagrams.

The below diagram shows where EVM fits into Ethereum.

The below diagram shows basic Architecture of EVM.

This below diagram shows how different parts of EVM interact with each other to make Ethereum do its magic.

We have seen what EVM looks like. Now it’s time to start understanding how these parts play a significant role in the way Ethereum works.

Ethereum Contracts Basics

Smart contracts are just computer programs, and we can say that Ethereum contracts are smart contracts that run on the Ethereum Virtual Machine. The EVM is the sandboxed runtime and a completely isolated environment for smart contracts in Ethereum. This means that every smart contract running inside the EVM has no access to the network, file system, or other processes running on the computer hosting the VM.

As we already know, there are two kinds of accounts: contracts and external accounts. Every account is identified by an address, and all accounts share the same address space. The EVM handles addresses of 160-bit length.

Every account consists of a balance, a nonce, bytecode, and stored data (storage). However, there are some differences between these two kinds of accounts. For instance, the code and storage of external accounts are empty, while contract accounts store their bytecode and the merkle root hash of the entire state tree. Moreover, while external addresses have a corresponding private key, contract accounts don’t. The actions of contract accounts are controlled by the code they host in addition to regular cryptographic signing of every Ethereum transaction.


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