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Bitcoin | BitcoinL2s | Bridges | Cryptography | Ecosystem

Announcing BitVMX: An Advanced Computational Layer for Bitcoin

By Daniel Fogg, CEO of RootstockLabs

Today we’re excited to announce that a team of researchers supported by RootstockLabs and Fairgate Labs have launched a project to explore a major advancement in blockchain computation. BitVMX is an advanced computational layer for Bitcoin that allows more complex and useful applications to be built and executed securely on the network.

The aim of the BitVMX research project is to create a secure, extensible, open-source, peer-reviewed, and sidechain-agnostic framework that can be used to develop Bitcoin bridges, aggregator oracles, and SNARK/STARK verifiers. 

Full details of the innovations and research that led to this discovery will be shared on stage by Sergio Demain Lerner, Chief Scientist at RootstockLabs at BTC++ Austin on the 1st of May. The full whitepaper detailing the technical aspects, architecture, and vision will also be shared on this date. 

As part of the BitVMX project, the research team intends to run a fully compliant RISC-V processor on Bitcoin, programmable using a standard compilation toolchain.

Deep dive into BitVMX: a CPU for Universal Computation on Bitcoin

From BitVM to BitVMX

Less than 6 months ago it was believed that without major modifications to Bitcoin’s code, using the network to verify complex computations was impossible. This changed in October 2023 when Robin Linus’ BitVM project proved there was, theoretically, a way to do it. 

But theory and practice are two very different things. The BitVMX research team intends to build on this initial discovery with additional innovations to create an improved development framework for running programs on Bitcoin. The name is a nod to BitVMX’s origins while highlighting its focus on extending Bitcoin and accelerating the development of the next generation of sidechains and layer 2s. 

The BitVMX framework and research will be fully open source and available to the entire Bitcoin community to help advance the building of the Bitcoin movement. Developers looking to harness this new technology can join the BitVMX Devs telegram group to contribute, collaborate, and follow the latest developments.

In terms of how BitVMX will contribute to Rootstock’s development, a team of core contributors is working on a public roadmap of proposed improvements to the network in the next 12 months. Alongside ambitious plans to reduce block speed from 30 seconds to 5 seconds, the roadmap will detail proposals on how BitVMX could play a major role in Rootstock’s future as the most secure, trustless, and interoperable Bitcoin sidechain. 

BitVMX: a CPU for Universal Computation on Bitcoin

BitVMX is not an updated version of BitVM. Instead, it’s inspired by Robin Linus’s BitVM whitepaper but proposes a completely different approach to solving the same problem with improved efficiency, security, and usability.

Unlike BitVM, which was largely theoretical and used a complex combinatorial logic circuit approach, BitVMX does not rely on large Merkle trees for gate-level verification. Instead, it uses a more streamlined approach by executing CPU instructions directly using Bitcoin script opcodes. This makes it far more suitable for real-world applications and unlocks use cases such as running sidechain light clients and verifying SNARKs.

BitVMX also focuses on efficient dispute resolution through a simpler, sequential hash chain and does not require the heavy computational overhead of maintaining extensive Merkle trees for each computation step. This reduces fees and enhances overall efficiency. 

Making Bitcoin Work For Everyone

While working together with Fairgate Labs on BitVMX, core contributors to Rootstock are also working on an expected roadmap of developments for the network in the next 12 months which will detail how this innovation will play a critical role in Rootstock’s future as the leading Bitcoin sidechain. 

Anyone is invited to collaborate in both technical and project development areas around BitVMX and developers and blockchain enthusiasts are encouraged to join the official BitVMX Builders telegram group to follow and contribute to the project’s progress. 


Join the BitVMX Builders on Telegram here.