Filecoin until now was identified as AirBNB for storage services, i.e. providing Storage as a Service to the Web3 community by storing NFT images, public welfare datasets, Metaverse assets, and everything data! But now, with Filecoin Virtual Machine (FVM), it is adding a layer of programmability above the storage layer. 

While Filecoin has been so far a marketplace for storing large datasets, the FVM will add automation of business logic to Filecoin. The goal of FVM is to enable users to deploy their own smart contracts to interact with the network, “ACTORS”, as they are called in the FVM. Filecoin’s primitives: storage and retrieval, are thought of as Layer 0 of the stack, whereas, smart contracts deployed on-chain to enable computation over the state (layered-calculating based on storage) will be considered as Layer 1, and solutions, infrastructure, and tooling, leveraging the FVM will be a part of Layer 2 of the stack.

Compatibility:

FEVM (EVM-compatible FVM) supports EVM smart contracts. The runtime of the FEVM virtual machine is WebAssembly (WASM). This allows the FVM to emulate EVM bytecode at the low level, supporting Solidity, Vyper, and Yul contracts. Ethereum community being the largest has built a huge repository of audited and battle-tested smart contracts such as ERC-20s, NFTs, DAOs, flash loans, etc. To get these Ethereum developers onboard and build over FVM with ease, Filecoin has chosen for the FVM to be compatible with EVM first, cutting off the need for going through the learning curve associated with specific languages and so the EVM-compatible FVM is abbreviated as FEVM. Most dapps ported to Filecoin neither require changes nor auditing. Developers can use familiar tools like Remix, Truffle, Hardhat, OpenZeppelin SDK, etc., making it more feasible to develop upon.

Use cases for FVM:

With FVM many data-related use cases could be implemented, as a layer that runs directly on top of the Filecoin blockchain, resulting in more efficient, resilient, secure, and democratic computing in Web 3.0. When actors will work with a direct storage system, many innovative use cases will emerge:

Source: https://filecoin.io/blog/posts/introducing-the-filecoin-virtual-machine/

Computation over Data: Large-scale computing involves the movement of data that comes with cost and latency. Highly parallel tasks can be executed efficiently by offloading computing tasks to storage providers and rewarding nodes for scheduling tasks to be performed on Filecoin. The results are then stored back to the Filecoin network, allowing further computational tasks to be performed.

Data-centric data DAOs: By pooling the resources of individuals and organizations, the custody, collection, and processing of public datasets will be incentivised. Data DAOs use Tokens and NFTs as value units and can be used to differentiate access rights. 

Crowd-Funded Dataset Preservation: Datasets that are required for the good of humankind like important surveys, GDP, population distribution data, criminal statistics, etc. will be put up on-chain and funded by everyone.

Native NFTs: NFTs will be issued, transacted, and stored on the same system of Filecoin, with the registries that track them.

Cross-chain Dapps: By creating bridges for cross-chain interoperability to share liquidity, and to integrate apps deployed on other chains (e.g. Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, etc.), with the storage capacity and capabilities provided by the Filecoin network.

Many other use cases are possible with FVM, developers are taking a leap to build on FEVM, and Filecoin network is ready for the network upgrade required for developers to compute on L1 & L2 and use the L0 as storage and retrieval layer.

Future:

According to Filecoin’s roadmap, the Filecoin network will introduce this major upgrade early next year. Recently, there was a hackathon organized by EthGlobal scheduled from 18th Nov to 20th Nov where 117 submissions and 400 developers with ideas to build on Filecoin Virtual Machine were welcomed.

To sum up, node operators, storage providers, and clients on the Filecoin network will still provide storage and retrieval services and requests, FVM will allow for programmable/smart storage markets e.g. automation, efficiency, increased performance, etc. With the onset of Q1 of 2023, Web3 will witness the development of the “storage + smart contract” model of the Filecoin Virtual Machine.

Recently, Filecoin has launched a Space Warp program to attract developers building dApps on FVM for its upcoming mainnet launch in February 2023 and to enable teams to build new applications that leverage the best of what FVM has to offer. It includes acceleration grants and a hackathon with more than $400k in combined prizes. The FVM is just the first in a series of significant updates coming to Filecoin in 2023. The Filecoin Network is building the foundation for a decentralized internet based on open services, in which open source and incentives are built-in to the protocol to drive the production of quality services.

I hope this article was helpful!