Axelar Network has launched the Axelar Virtual Machine and will initiate a $5 million developer grant program.

Universal interoperability platform, Axelar Network, has launched the Axelar Virtual Machine (VM), which enables developers to build DApps only once and run them on all chains. The Axelar VM includes two products: Interchain Amplifier, which can connect to any chain, and Interchain Maestro, which automates the execution of complex tasks by orchestrating multi-chain dApp management. Additionally, Axelar will launch a $5 million developer grant program to promote the use of the Axelar VM and expand cross-chain interoperability.

The current state of interchain connectivity and its core challenges

When it comes to blockchain interconnectivity, the topic of security has been extensively studied. However, many discussions tend to overlook other key properties, such as the cost of development, economics, complexity and the end-state topology that emerges when connecting thousands of chains.

Cross-chain connections are costly to build, and can’t be reused. All connections – whether they utilize an on-chain verification technique (like light-clients or a ZK proof) or an external validator set – are expensive to set up and maintain.

The number of required connections is exploding. In today’s world, there are already over 1,000 chains (and growing) that need to be connected.

Building and managing interchain dApps is costly and complex. Developers typically need to set up their contracts across multiple chains, pick RPC providers, and subsequently perform identical management functions across all of them.

Solution: Hub-and-spoke routing + programmable interoperability.

Hubs like the Axelar network can offer one-to-many routing properties. At the cost of developing a single connection, a chain can access N other interconnected ecosystems. In this model, connecting a light-client or a ZK chain to the hub is the most economically practical approach.

Establishing programmability at the interop layer itself is the best approach to enable faster and more seamless expansion of new connections, customization of the interop layer, and simplified interchain deployments. This is the ultimate goal the Axelar Virtual Machine was designed to achieve.

The Axelar Virtual Machine

The Virtual Machine at the network layer is instantiated to allow developers to program interoperability across chains and compose each other’s functions. We describe two key products designed to scale interoperability using the Virtual Machine.

Axelar Virtual Machine

The Axelar Virtual Machine enables developers to write smart contracts on Axelar, scaling their interchain deployments and “programming” the cross-chain networking layer.

Interchain Amplifier

The Interchain Amplifier enables developers to permissionlessly set up connections to the Axelar network. Developers gain access to Axelar’s interconnected network of chains and can “amplify” their resources by paying the cost equivalent to developing only one connection.

Interchain Maestro

The Interchain Maestro introduces a new paradigm for building in the interchain: build once, run everywhere. It is a set of orchestration contracts and templates to help design, deploy and manage dApps across multiple chains. Developers can specify the contracts they want to deploy, as well as the associated chains and any governance parameters, and store these confirmations and initial parameters in a smart contract on the Axelar network. Developers can interact with multiple chains simply by submitting transactions on the Axelar network with just one hop.

Axelar is launching a $5 million developer grant program to build using the Axelar Virtual Machine and expand the interchain.

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