The ICE Blockchain
A new EVM compatible blockchain for the ICON Ecosystem
We are very excited to provide further details on a brand new blockchain project coming to the ICON community. This new blockchain, called 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 & Polkadot ecosystems. It 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, you’ll be able to wrap assets, natively swap assets using each respective network’s underlying security, query data between networks, and much more. The opportunities are endless, and our goals will be to push these boundaries through continued research and development of 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.
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 many have used the Substrate SDK to build an application 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 one blockchain protocol. Not only are we adding EVM compatibility, but we are further aligning our developer base with the Substrate-based community. We believe that the potential to grow this network is an exciting opportunity for ICONists, adding significant value to the overall ecosystem.
The purpose of this new blockchain is the much-needed addition of EVM compatibility to our ecosystem. We believe EVM compatibility is paramount for the growth of the ICON Network (see Polygon’s recent success as a good indicator of its importance). It enables developers to iterate and innovate much faster using existing tooling and code from the Ethereum ecosystem and allows for increased growth prospects of ICON given easier portability of applications. Additionally, with this new chain, we are also adding eWASM support that puts us ahead of the game, preparing us for ETH 2.0 compatibility.
In addition to Parastate, there will be several other teams working on the ICE Blockchain to grow the developer base, lead integrations, and drive activity. Stay tuned for announcements on these groups very soon.
How ICE fits into the ICON ecosystem
The ICON Ecosystem will now split between two networks with differing goals. The ICE Blockchain will be focused on the application 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.
The current ICON network will continue to optimize for BTP, and begin focusing specifically on interoperability and low-latency cross-chain apps. The core focus becomes increasing integrations of other networks and driving volumes through BTP. Therefore, the narrative of the ICON network shifts from “build DApps on our network, and we also have BTP” to “Use BTP as your interoperability solution because it is the most secure and decentralized on the market”. We believe we are in a great position to drive this activity, providing the necessary incentives to drive growth.
How does this impact ICX holders?
The ICE blockchain’s native token, ICE, will be airdropped 1:1 to all ICX holders. Stay tuned for an announcement regarding the snapshot. All ICX holders at the time of the snapshot will receive ICE tokens equivalent to the amount of ICX they hold.
To ensure you receive the airdrop, you must be holding your ICX in a wallet in which you control the private key (i.e. Hana or ICONex), unless otherwise noted by your wallet/exchange provider. The airdrop will appear directly in your wallet with no required action by ICX holders.
Through the use of BTP, ICX will be the governance token of the ICE network. ICX will be used to vote for validators as it is used for validators (P-Reps) in our 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 (network fee) token of the ICE Blockchain.
Additionally, this provides an excellent early use-case of 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. As mentioned in a previous post, all fees earned from BTP transactions are sent to the 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 after further research into the Substrate SDK, however, we will target a 5 or 6% maximum inflation rate at launch.
Our current expectation is to have the ICE Network fully operational with BTP connections integrated 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.
This is a major milestone for the ICON Network, becoming EVM compatible, eWASM compatible, and also finding a significant and tangible use-case for our interoperability technology coupled with the modular nature of the Substrate SDK. We look forward to seeing the impact this advancement will have on the proliferation of the ICON Network.
All ongoing developments will be shared here going forward.