The Avalanche Chain: A Deep Dive

Author: Okereke Innocent
March 25, 2021

 |6 min read

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Overview

Many analysts have dubbed the Avalanche chain as the new DeFi Blockchain. The launch of the Avalanche platform has attracted attention from DeFi community enthusiasts. Avalanche features 3-built-in Blockchain networks, and all three are secure and validated by the main network. The main network of the Avalanche platform functions as a special subnet. Every member of all custom subnets must be a member of the main network. They can do that by staking at least 2,000 AVAX, which is the native token of the Avalanche Blockchain network. 

In this article, we shall explore the Avalanche network and what you should all expect. 

What is Avalanche Chain?

It is a relatively new Blockchain network and boasts of sub-second transaction times and low transaction fees. The platform was developed by Ava Labs under the leadership of Emin Gun Sirer. Avalanche’s mainnet was launched in September 2020. The project raised $18 million from notable investment firms like Andreesen Horowitz and Polychain Capital. They also raised another $42 million with the public launch of the native token (AVAX) in July 2020. Their goal is to be better than ETH 2.0 in terms of throughput and latency. 

The subnets or subnetworks are a special set of validators that works together to achieve consensus on the condition of a set of Blockchain systems. One subnet validates a particular Blockchain network. A node can belong to many subnets, and every subnet manages its own membership. However, it may require that the constituent validators have certain properties. 

How Does The Avalanche Platform Work?

The Avalanche chain is made up of multiple Blockchain networks. It makes use of a novel proof-of-stake consensus mechanism to reach a high throughput. The platform is estimated to execute more than 4500 transactions per second. According to the team behind the project, Avalanche combines the benefits of “Nakamoto consensus” and “Classical Consensus”. The Nakamoto consensus involves robustness, scalability, and decentralization. Also, the Classical consensus involves speed, quick finality, and energy efficiency. Both the Classical and Nakamoto consensus mechanisms combine to create a revolutionary consensus engine. 

According to Emin Gun Sirer, “only three times in the 45-year-old history of distributed systems have we had a new family emerge. Avalanche is a brand new family, as big of a breakthrough as Satoshi’s protocol was. It combines the best of Satoshi and the best of classical in scales like no other that allow anyone to integrate themselves into the consensus layer.” 

In the Avalanche model, each chain is a separate representation of a virtual machine. It supports multiple custom machines like Ethereum virtual machine (EVM) and WASM, thus allowing chains to imbibe case-specific functionality. Each of the virtual machines is deployed on a custom Blockchain network known as a subnet. The subnet consists of a special set of validators that work together to achieve consensus. Each of the subnets has its own incentive mechanisms to ensure the validators are honest in their activities. 

It is not out of place to call the Avalanche chain a “platform of platforms”.The network consists of thousands of subnets that come together to form one interoperable network. 

Optimistic Rollups: What are They?

What’s the Avalanche-Ethereum Bridge?

Ava Labs, through its accelerator, Avalanche-X is investing in grants to DeFi projects. ChainSafe got one of these grants to develop a cross-chain Ethereum bridge. The Avalanche-Ethereum Bridge was set in motion last month, and it functions as a two-way token bridge. It allows for seamless ERC-20 and ERC-721transfers between the Avalanche Chain and Ethereum network. To use Ethereum-based assets with dApps on the Avalanche network, users will have to lock the asset in the ChainBridge contract, and then mint an equivalent token on the Avalanche Blockchain. 

Therefore, you can bridge ETH and ERC-20 tokens between the Avalanche and Ethereum networks. Many benefits come with the Avalanche-Ethereum Bridge. It represents a step towards redeploying Ethereum’s slow and expensive DeFi infrastructure to the faster and cheaper Avalanche Blockchain. On the Avalanche network, transaction fees are rarely more than a few cents. On the other hand, the cost of complicated computations is always in the single-digit dollar range, and the execution is significantly faster.   

The 3-Built-In Blockchain Networks On Avalanche

The Exchange Chain (X-Chain)

The X-Chain functions as a decentralized network for creating and trading digital assets. It is a representation of a real-world resource such as bonds and equity with specific rules that govern their actions. Whenever you initiate a transaction on the Avalanche blockchain, you get to pay a fee in AVAX. The Exchange Chain is an example of the Avalanche Virtual Machine (AVM). Clients can create and trade assets on the X-Chain and other examples of the AVM with the help of the X-Chain API. 

The Platform Chain (P-Chain)

It is the metadata Blockchain on the Avalanche Blockchain network and coordinates validators. The P-Chain also keeps track of active subnets and allows the creation of new ones. It implements the Snowman consensus protocol. The P-Chain API also allows users to create subnets, add validators to the subnets, and build Blockchain networks. 

The Contract Chain (C-Chain)

With the C-Chain API, clients can create smart contracts. It is an example of the Ethereum Virtual Machine that is powered by the Avalanche Chain. The C-Chain also serves as the default smart contract blockchain of the Avalanche chain. C-Chain is also very compatible with the Solidity smart contract as well as Ethereum tooling. Therefore, it makes it easy for Ethereum developers to easily port applications into the Avalanche chain.

The Primary Network

Meanwhile, there is the primary network that validates all the three built-in blockchains of Avalanche. Every member of the Avalanche network must be part of the primary network. Before any of the Subnets can become a member of the network, it must stake some AVAX tokens

Ever heard about Defi protocol “Compound”?

The Implication Of The Avalanche Chain Network On the Blockchain Space

The impact of the Avalanche network and that of the Avalanche-Ethereum Bridge is far-reaching, to say the least. Here are some of the possible ways the Avalanche network can impact the Blockchain space:

Accessibility

The low cost of transactions on the platform means that it will be more financially viable for small trades. Therefore, it will open up the DeFi ecosystem to smaller players as well as entry-level investors. Although the user experience is still complex and is a significant barrier to entry, improvement in this area can lead to an increased number of participants in the DeFi space. 

Low Slippage

With the faster transaction and higher throughput of the Avalanche Blockchain system, price slippage reduces significantly. Therefore, the network ensures instant trades while also bringing the experience of trading on decentralized exchanges closer to centralized counterparts.

Conclusion

The Avalanche chain is revolutionary and is on the right track to transforming the DeFi space. A day after the launch of the Avalanche Bridge contract, more than $30 million worth of Ethereum-based assets were locked up. This is evidence of the strong adoption of the Avalanche network. 

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