ICE? SNOW? Polkadot? Kusama?

It can all get really confusing.

Well, the ICE/SNOW network — and, if you read Korean, — have helped explain who’s who.

First off, ICE is trying to secure a parachain slot with the Polkadot blockchain platform.

To do this, however, SNOW must secure a parachain slot with the Kusama network.

This makes perfect sense, as SNOW and Kusama are the canary networks of ICE and Polkadot, respectively.

So, what the heck is a parachain?

To quote, parachains are “custom, project-specific blockchains that are integrated within the Polkadot (DOT) and Kusama (KSM) networks.”

To put this another way, parachains are the key to Kusama’s scalable multichain architecture. Or in plain English, they are what allows the network to grow by connecting to other networks.

Parachains connect to Kusama — or the larger Polkadot network, for that matter — by leasing a slot on the so-called “Relay Chain.”

The Relay Chain is the central chain of Polkadot, the heart of Polkadot/Kusama. It is “responsible for the network’s shared security, consensus and cross-chain interoperability.”

What’s the point of this architecture, you might ask? Again, according to Kraken:

This design structure may allow parachain users to perform transactions faster and at lower costs, and parachain developers to create blockchains that don’t disclose user data to the public network or that do not need to process a large number of transactions.”

OK, so what does ICE/SNOW need to do to lease a slot on the Relay Chain?

Well, they need to take a couple of steps, including:

  • Design and build a parachain using the Substrate framework
  • Test and optimize locally, then on a testnet
  • Determine a slot lease auction strategy
  • Join an auction and bid for approximately one week
  • Deploy on the acquired slot after the start of the lease
  • Renew at the end of the lease period by joining another auction

These processes will need to be repeated when ICE makes a play for a Polkadot parachain slot, too.

Easy enough to understand, but what is this “lease auction” about which you speak?

Well, Polkadot currently supports about 100 parachains. Spots are limited, so most projects that want a place will need to win an auction by locking up a bond in DOT or KSM for the duration of the 96-week lease.

Polkadot uses a so-called “candle auction” to add a bit of randomness to when an auction ends (to prevent last minute sniping).

It also allows DOT or KSM holders to bond their crypto to support projects they believe to be worthy of a spot, making the process more equitable.