What is Appchain

Intermediate
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An application-specific blockchain, also called an appchain, is a blockchain designed to operate a specific application, and its counterpart is a public blockchain designed for multiple applications to operate together.

What Are the Advantages of Appchains?

Application chains enable application developers to gain better customizability, ownership, and performance advantages in the design and development of their applications compared to public blockchains.

To develop an application on a public blockchain, developers need to adapt to the code language, consensus algorithm, tokenomic model, governance framework, etc. of the chosen public blockchain. By choosing an appchain, developers can be free from the above constraints and have more freedom in the development of their applications. At the same time, the developer of the appchain can update the application chain at the right time, while the update process of the public blockchain is much longer because the developer has no control over the consensus.

Applications deployed on a public blockchain must, in general, compete with other applications for blockchain's computing power and storage space. By adopting appchains, on the other hand, competition with other applications can be avoided, and the service performance of the application will be improved accordingly.

However, public blockchains also have advantages over appchains. Public blockchains generally have a larger community of developers as well as users, and more resources and tools for developers to use. At the same time, applications deployed on public blockchains are relatively easy to port to compatible blockchains.

Which Blockchains Support Building Application Chains?

Cosmos Zone

Cosmos is a blockchain network consisting of many appchains that use the Tendermint consensus mechanism, each appchain in the network is called a "Zone". The core appchain, Cosmos Hub, is the first blockchain in the Cosmos network and was developed by the Cosmos team. The other application chains are developed using the Cosmos SDK and are connected through the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol. Each appchain has independent verification nodes as well as native tokens, and transactions are executed and settled on the appchain. Cosmos SDK is an open-source development toolkit that helps developers build customizable Cosmos Zone, and any developer can build Cosmos Zone through Cosmos SDK.

Source: Map of Zones

Projects that use the Cosmos Zone appchain include

Polkadot Parachain

Polkadot is an EVM-compatible hub-and-spoke blockchain network with a Relay Chain at its core and other appchains connected to the Relay Chain called Parachains. The Parachains in the Polkadot network are only responsible for collecting transaction information and subsequently uploading the transactions to the Relay Chain for verification and execution. Polkadot has the capacity to accommodate up to 100 Parachains, and developers need to qualify to use them through an auction process that opens periodically. Parachains have an expiration date, and if they are not renewed, the appchain will be separated from the Relay Chain, leaving a spot open for new appchains to link into.

Source: Polkadot Wiki

Projects using the Polkadot Parachain appchain include

  • Acala, a decentralized over-collateralized stablecoin issuance platform
  • Moonbeam, an EVM-compatible smart contract platform

Avalanche Subnet

Avalanche itself is a public blockchain that uses the Avalanche consensus mechanism. Avalanche Subnet is essentially an appchain maintained by a random set of validators from the Avalanche mainnet. The set of validators is dynamically rotated to ensure decentralization and security. Any developer can use Avalanche Subnet's services by staking Avalanche's native token $AVAX.

Source: Avalanche Dev Docs

Projects using the Avalanche Subnet appchain include

Polygon Supernet

Polygon Supernet is a customizable appchain network developed by Polygon that is EVM compatible like Polygon. To help application developers build blockchains more easily, Polygon has developed Polygon Edge, a toolkit to help developers customize Supernet, similar to the Cosmos SDK. Supernet is interconnected to the Polygon PoS sidechain, and indirectly to the Ethernet mainnet through the Polygon PoS sidechain.

Source: Polygon Wiki

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