This new blockchain, designated ICE, will bring about a new application hub for the ICON ecosystem. Upon completion, ICE will provide developers better tooling, EVM and eWASM compatibility, and immediate access to the growing ETH and Polkadot ecosystems.
“ICE also represents a shift in the direction of the ICON project by separating functionality, product targeting, and the purpose of each of these respective networks. ICE will become the application hub of the ecosystem while we double down on our efforts to make ICON the leading cross-chain and interoperability protocol in the industry. With ICON, users will be able to wrap assets, natively swap assets using each respective network’s underlying security, query data between networks, and more. Our goals will be to push these boundaries through continued research and development of Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP) and focused integrations driving its adoption. ICON isn’t a competitor, it is an enabler. It’s agnostic, and as crypto grows, ICON does as well.”
– The ICON Team
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In partnership with Parastate, a Substrate-focused development team specializing in building complex virtual machine pallets, the ICON Network will achieve both EVM and eWASM compatibility through a customized and novel Substrate based side-chain.
While others have used the Substrate SDK to build an app or feature-specific parachain for Polkadot; ICON is the first team to use the Substrate SDK to extend the feature-set of an existing layer-1 blockchain.
The main purpose of this new blockchain is the addition of EVM compatibility to the ICON ecosystem.
EVM compatibility enables developers to iterate and innovate much faster using existing tooling and code from the Ethereum ecosystem. It also allows for increased growth prospects of ICON given easier portability of apps. On ICE, ICON is also adding eWASM support; preparing ICON for ETH 2.0 compatibility.
In addition to Parastate, there are numerous other teams working on ICE, with the goal of growing the developer base, leading integrations, and driving activity.
Breakdown: ICON ecosystem
The ICON Ecosystem will now be split between two networks with differing goals:
First, the ICE blockchain will be focused on the app layer; as it is much easier for existing blockchain developers to leverage the tools and codebase of EVM compatible networks. Additionally, applications will be able to port over their services quickly to take advantage of ICON’s dedicated user base.
Second, the current network will continue to optimize for ICON’s Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP) and begin focusing specifically on interoperability plus low-latency cross-chain apps. The core focus will become increasing integrations of other networks and driving volumes through BTP.
Impact on ICX token holders
The ICE blockchain’s native token, ICE, will be airdropped 1:1 to all ICX holders. All ICX holders at the time of the snapshot will receive ICE tokens equivalent to the amount of ICX they hold.
Through the use of ICON’s BTP, ICX will be the governance token of the ICE network. ICX will be used to vote for validators, similar to how it is used for (P-Reps) on the current network.
ICX holders will transfer ICX to the ICE network via BTP, stake their ICX, vote for validators, and earn ICE tokens as rewards. While ICX will be the governance token, ICE will be the gas token of the ICE blockchain.
Additionally, this provides an early use case for BTP. The ICON Network will earn fees as users send ICE and ICX between the ICE Network and the ICON Network; creating further economic ties to the ICX token. All fees earned from BTP transactions are sent to ICON’s Contribution Proposal System or burned.
The architecture of the ICE blockchain
The ICE blockchain will start as a Proof of Authority network, with trusted validators operating the chain.
After the network is stabilized, it will migrate to NPoS, the consensus mechanism commonly used by other Substrate SDK networks. NPoS is a variation of DPoS (ICON Network’s current consensus mechanism), where token holders vote for validators to produce blocks and govern the network.
Smart contracts on the ICE Network will be written in Solidity, Rust, and C++. Fees for smart contract interactions, smart contract deployments, and token transfers will be paid in ICE tokens. 20% of the transaction fees of the network go to Parastate as part of utilizing their technology.
The initial supply of ICE tokens will be 25% higher than the supply of ICX, with this extra 25% being set aside to incentivize future core contributors to the ICE blockchain. It will be inflationary to incentivize voting and block production similar to the ICON Network.
Inflation rates and more detailed economics will be provided by the ICON team after more research into the Substrate SDK. However, ICON says it will target a 5% or 6% maximum inflation rate at launch.
Right now, the plan is to have the ICE blockchain fully operational with BTP connections by Q4 of 2021. The initial proof of concept network will be live in Q3 2021, allowing DApp developers to begin building EVM and/or eWASM applications before full completion.