How Parachains Work
The heterogeneous multichain approach developed by Polkadot in 2016 enables numerous, independent blockchains with specialized functionality to cooperate under a single layer of security.
The Polkadot network’s backbone comprises layer-1 next-generation blockchains called parachains, which put the “multi” in multichain and establish a free alliance of independent chains. In this network of layer-1 parachains, Polkadot serves as the foundational and supporting layer-0 protocol. Thanks to Polkadot’s cross-chain interoperability, any kind of data or asset may be transmitted between parachains, ushering in a new paradigm of interchain services, organizations, and economies. Polkadot’s multichain design enables it to be the foundation for a new, decentralized internet that its creator Dr. Gavin Wood has dubbed “Web3.”
As opposed to just depending on layer-2 scaling solutions, the parachain approach scales blockchain technology in a much more decentralized and trustless manner. A single group of decentralized validators secures many blockchains where transactions can occur “in parallel” or concurrently.
In Polkadot’s expanding ecosystem, over competing technologies, more than 130 blockchain development teams worldwide are creating and launching their parachains, mainly due to the clear benefits the parachain architecture offers them. Several parachains are already up and running in Kusama, Polkadot’s “canary network,” and they have handled several thousand transactions since the summer of 2021.
The Principal Advantages Of Parachains:
The parachain architecture developed by Polkadot opens up new vistas of potential for blockchain systems and the future of Web3. Due in part to the fact that the parachain model offers so many advantages, it might be challenging to summarise its genuine worth.
Only a few examples of them are as follows:
The parachain concept was developed with the idea that many different kinds of blockchains will collaborate in the future of Web3. This is because no specific blockchain design is ideal for all use cases. Each chain has trade-offs that make it more suited for some applications than others.
Blockchains must offer a range of services, much as the existing internet adapts to varied needs: one chain may be created for gaming, another for identity and access management, another for financial, etc. Polkadot establishes the framework for a blockchain internet by linking these several chains.
For practically any blockchain use case, parachains may be customized, and they can serve as a tool for testing out novel use cases, particularly on Kusama. Because of their specialization, parachains can accomplish more as a group than any one chain could achieve on its own, fostering the development of a vibrant ecosystem for decentralized enterprises.
When constructing a chain, parachain developers have the most significant amount of flexibility, thanks to Polkadot. The sole technical prerequisite for a parachain is its ability to demonstrate to Polkadot verifiers that each of its blocks complies with the established protocol. Beyond that, the possibilities for creating the ideal chain for a certain use case or collection of uses are endless.
Compared to those that build on top of a smart contract platform, blockchain developers have significantly more flexibility when creating a parachain. Developers that construct at the smart contract layer are constrained by the blockchain’s underlying architectural choices, which might not be ideal for their use case. With Polkadot, developers may go deep into the layer-1 parachain’s internal reasoning, opening them a myriad of additional opportunities for optimization.
The parachain model’s adaptability allows for the broadest range of blockchain technology variations, fostering innovation in Web3 and avoiding the drawbacks and mistakes of earlier blockchain networks.
The ability of blockchains with different designs to communicate with one another is a crucial component of parachain architecture. Blockchains are no longer remote islands that are cut off from one another because of Polkadot’s interoperability, also based on cross composability. By building a decentralized, interconnected internet of blockchains where previously there were just isolated networks to their tribalistic communities, parachains put an end to the age of walled blockchains.
Importantly, Polkadot enables parachains to communicate any kind of data, not only tokens, between one other, creating a range of new blockchain use cases. Instead of being restricted to the functionality of just one blockchain, Polkadot developers may develop services that utilize the advantages of several chains.
When you compare the effects of free trade and isolationism on economies, you can see the actual value of interoperability. Each blockchain is comparable to a separate, sovereign state with its internal society and economy. Accordingly, the parachain model offers a robust framework for international free trade, abolishing the isolationism and balkanization that impede economic growth and restrict the effect of each chain separately.
In contrast to just depending on layer 2, the parachain paradigm allows Polkadot to scale at layer 1, which is more decentralized and effective. However, layer-2 solutions can also be included in parachains, significantly enhancing scalability. With Polkadot, transactions may be dispersed throughout a network of specialized layer-1 blockchains and processed concurrently, greatly enhancing throughput and scalability compared to non-sharded networks.
Decentralization, data availability, and security will all still be maintained as Polkadot improves scalability and transaction throughput in the future, thanks to several improvements that have been suggested. The final item is crucial because other networks could favor TPS at the cost of these crucial elements, but giving up decentralization for throughput violates Web3’s fundamental goal.
No Platform Costs
Polkadot-connected Parachains have unlimited access to computational power without paying extra fees or “gas” prices. Due to Polkadot’s versatility, parachain developers and dapp developers can design any price system they see fit for their customers.
The best part is that users of parachains don’t even need to be aware they’re dealing with a blockchain or that they need to own DOT tokens to access applications and services. In this way, a substantial obstacle to usability and acceptance that occurs with traditional networks may be removed by blockchain technology thanks to the parachain paradigm. Imagine if you had to carry a specific token and pay the price each time you wanted to use an app on your phone. Eliminating platform costs for consumers will be a key factor in the widespread adoption of Web3.
New blockchains often need to establish a network of validators to bootstrap their security. Due to the difficulty and length of this procedure, many blockchains have a degree of security that makes them susceptible to assaults.
When linking to Polkadot, parachains instantly receive strong security. Newer blockchain teams may quickly obtain security akin to a bank because of this built-in safety mechanism, also known as shared security. Additionally, it lowers their entrance hurdles and drastically shortens the time needed to create a new network.
Technology is constantly evolving in our environment; one day, it may be cutting edge, and the next, it may be outdated. Like any software, blockchains require regular upgrades to integrate new features as they become available, address issues, and incorporate more sophisticated technology. However, modernizing traditional blockchains is a time-consuming process that sometimes involves “forking” or breaking the chain, which hinders innovation and occasionally splits communities.
Upgrades that are simpler and “forkless” are available for Polkadot and its parachains. As a result, parachains may be quickly updated following the desires of their communities, enabling them to be prepared for what the future may bring. With the parachain concept, blockchains may more easily change and adapt to new situations, ensuring their continued relevance as new technologies are developed.
Independent and Adaptable Governance
On Polkadot, parachains are free to use any governance model they see appropriate and have access to various pre-built modules for setting up different on-chain governance systems. The possibility of hard forks of their chain, which run the danger of dividing their communities in two, may be considerably reduced by teams thanks to the availability of advanced on-chain governance systems.
In addition, on-chain governance offers parachain communities a way to be transparent and responsible, which is necessary for many organizations and fiduciaries who frequently need to witness transparent decision-making procedures before using blockchain technology. A robust system of governance, when combined with Polkadot’s forkless upgrading function, enables parachains to keep their competitive edge while simultaneously fostering community cohesiveness and guaranteeing that all stakeholders have a vote in the network’s destiny.
To obtain financial autonomy and operate independently to support activities in accordance with the wishes of their communities, parachains might make use of on-chain treasuries. Treasury-enabled parachain communities can readily assume the shape of a DAO when combined with on-chain governance (decentralized autonomous organization).
This allows for new decentralized finance models, including cross-chain mergers and acquisitions, decentralized charity, decentralized sovereign wealth funds, and funding for network-beneficial initiatives. Blockchains may now “act in the world” financially thanks to the parachain paradigm, which was previously only available to centralized organizations and businesses.
In the end, the advantages listed above wouldn’t matter much if creating a parachain was an impossible task. However, various development tools are available to parachain development teams, making it simpler than ever to create a blockchain.
The main Polkadot parachain SDK, Substrate, is a blockchain development platform created by Parity Technologies that helps teams greatly minimize the effort and complexity of creating a parachain. With Substrate, developers may utilize pre-built modules for typical blockchain characteristics that can be combined and reconfigured, like blockchain building bricks, to construct the unique parachain most appropriate for their use case.
With parachains, what once required years of laborious effort with sizable teams of experienced engineers may now be completed in a few weeks with the resources of a young company.