Coretime and blockspace ecosystems – Web3's resources
Explore the fundamental concepts of blockspace, blockspace ecosystems, and Coretime - and how they work in harmony to reshape the infrastructure for an open and decentralized internet.
Blockspace as the foundation of Web3
In traditional computing terms, blockspace can be imagined as the combination of storage, bandwidth, and computing power. It is the most valuable capability of a blockchain, and describes the computing capacity and storage required to create a block.
Compared to traditional, discrete Web2 resources, blockspace distributes all three of these over a decentralized network.
What is blockspace?
Blockspace is the product of a single blockchain. It describes the computing capacity and storage required to create a block, and it’s the most valuable capability of a blockchain because it delivers tangible value to users.
But not all blockspace is created equal. There are differences in the utility and quality of the blockspace offerings available today, as defined by core attributes such as security, availability, and flexibility.
From a conceptual standpoint, blockspace is a virtual area where a blockchain’s code and data are executed. It is the space where all actions and information are processed. This includes everything from validating and recording cryptocurrency transactions to executing smart contracts for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications.
Blockspace is different from traditional discrete Web2 resources such as storage, bandwidth, or computing power. Instead, blockspace is the combination of all three, but distributed over a decentralized network.
What makes high-quality blockspace?
The scarcest resource in blockchains.
Securing blockspace against transaction manipulations, such as censorship, reversals, or theft, requires intensive computing resources vulnerable to centralization. Additionally, emerging projects lack the economic scale to prevent attacks such as 51% attacks.
Rollups and other Layer-2s
Layer-2s are only as secure as their underlying protocol, with optimistic rollups having a long time to finality.
Most networks rely on bridges to enable interoperability between chains, which are infamously prone to faults and hacks.
Slow bug fixing
Networks without efficient, decentralized on-chain governance are inherently slow in decision making, such as for fixing bugs, leaving the network vulnerable to attacks. Most protocols have compromised their decentralized governance, making the network dependent on the goodwill of a selected few.
How Polkadot solves it
Polkadot's patented Nominated Proof of Stake mechanism with its advanced election algorithm safeguards Polkadot's blockspace against attacks and transactions violations.
When building in Polkadot's ecosystem, the entire validator community is leveraged, giving smaller projects resilience equal to the entire network's economic barriers against attacks.
The Polkadot ecosystem connects to external ecosystems through trustless bridges, enabling secure cross-platform interoperability.
Decentralized, efficient on-chain governance prevents single groups controlling the direction of a blockchain’s evolution, and enables swift resolution to bugs and security concerns.
Readily available blockspace ensures applications are always accessible, run cost-effectively, and work seamlessly for users.
Blockchains have finite bandwidth, leading to congestion and unpredictable service availability as demand increases.
High transaction fees
Most blockchains drive transaction fees higher when blockspace is needed more.
Legacy chains cannot service demanding dapps at scale, restricting innovations to a small user group and limiting mainstream reach.
Blockspace is often underutilized and these resources go unused.
How Polkadot solves it
Polkadot’s specialized chains all produce blockspace with optimal performance, providing abundant bandwidth.
Polkadot’s bulk fee structure provides a cap to skyrocketing fees.
Readily available blockspace leads to highly-performing apps with great UX, allowing for vast user growth.
Secondary markets in blockspace ecosystems can be used to buy or sell excess blockspace.
‘One-size-fits-all’ blockspace will inevitably lead to product, cost, and security dilemmas.
Adapting and tailoring projects for specific, evolving use cases becomes difficult.
Stuck with old specs
Blockspace can’t be upgraded, leaving builders stuck, unable to adapt and innovate, and unable to fix security issues.
How Polkadot solves it
Bespoke tech specs
Flexible blockspace enables the product design to be independent of the underlying protocol. This allows for various models, architectures, and tokenomics.
Upgradable blockspace also adjusts to future needs, providing a great canvas for innovation.
What is a blockspace ecosystem?
Blockspace from multiple blockchains can be combined to form a blockspace ecosystem characterized by the core attributes of its blockspace. A blockspace ecosystem is a secured and networked collection of individual blockspace producers (blockchains). Value for the end user can be generated by assembling blockspace in an ecosystem for decentralized applications (dapps), smart contracts, or other blockchains.
How does an ecosystem differ from individual blockspace?
One of the most valuable aspects of a blockspace ecosystem is the fact that it can offer a connective tissue of shared security and composability. That means anyone building within the ecosystem (as a dapp developer or blockspace provider) will benefit from its economic security, with the ability to compose blockspace from different producers to assemble applications from pre-built capabilities. This enables them to focus development efforts on their differentiating features rather than spending time rebuilding existing capabilities.
What are examples?
For example, a supply chain traceability application could be made up of different types of blockspace from multiple producers in a single ecosystem. One blockspace type could handle identity verification, one asset tokenization, and another source traceability – all combining to create a full application experience that’s fit for purpose.
Why do blockspace ecosystems matter?
Web3 has a bold mission to bring value to billions of users and give rise to a new, fairer global digital economy and supporting business models. Those models will embrace the values of decentralization, digital sovereignty, transparent governance with global participation, and fair and equitable treatment for all. Ultimately, Web3 business models will help meet the increasing demand for a web that respects users’ data rights.
An awareness of blockspace ecosystems and the attributes of blockspace they provide is a logical evolution for blockchain technology to create Web3 adoption at scale and help bring the value of blockchain closer to its end users.
Advanced blockspace ecosystems like Polkadot provide these seamless experiences and offer the ability to scale when needed, with a model that enables developers to quickly build capacity as more users join Web3. Just as greater bandwidth helped to drive a transition from Web1 to Web2 – and how cloud computing models drove broad use cases and adoption for Web2 – blockspace ecosystems are a step toward the same transition and adoption for Web3.
What makes a healthy blockspace ecosystem?
Evaluating different Web3 ecosystems is difficult, as attributes are often poorly defined and measured differently. Usually, just the better-performing metrics are highlighted, giving an incomplete picture of the quality of the entire ecosystem. Thus, it is important to know the attributes that define a high-quality blockspace ecosystem.
Joining an established ecosystem with robust security eliminates the vulnerability of solo chains, which have little economic resilience. By becoming part of a larger ecosystem, solo chains can benefit from shared security and economic stability.
Blockspace ecosystems can establish connectivity between different blockchains. This allows dapps to easily integrate and share data across chains, combining the unique capabilities of each platform. Dapp developers can tap into the specialized strengths of various blockspace offerings, leading to more advanced and optimally designed products.
A healthy blockspace ecosystem provides both flexible and rigid chains. Flexible chains adapt to support a wide range of decentralized apps and use cases. Rigid chains offer consistent rules and stability for critical processes. By combining these complementary blockspace types, ecosystems can accommodate diverse needs.
Aligning blockspace fees with actual demand and system capacity ensures fair pricing. This reduces cost barriers, broadens access, and fosters innovation. Combining usage-based pricing with a protection against spiking fees prevents unforeseen costs.
Efficient blockspace allocation maximizes transaction throughput during high demand. Using an engine that responds to congestion and workload spikes, ecosystems can scale effectively, and builders get an uninterrupted flow of bandwidth when most needed.
Find out how Polkadot's blockspace ecosystem meets these criteria
What is coretime?
On Polkadot, blockspace is produced by cores. Coretime represents access to these cores - essentially allotments of validated blockspace. In technical terms, coretime refers to the data availability and execution time of a core, e.g. on Polkadot's relay chain.
Polkadot revolutionizes how blockspace is allocated by introducing Agile Coretime, a flexible model for purchasing blockspace allowing projects to scale efficiently as needs change. Dive into technical details in the wiki.
There are two ways to purchase coretime:
- On-Demand coretime - Acquired as needed and used for a single-block production. Represented by non-transferable credits.
- Bulk coretime - Acquired upfront for a fixed duration as an NFT asset. Holders can use, trade, or subdivide it.
Why agile coretime matters
Agile Coretime enables projects to innovate without boundaries or capital constraints. Costs become more predictable as core usage matches actual demand rather than artificially limited supply. The flexibility to acquire blockspace for variable or growing needs is key. Moreover, the option to buy coretime in bulk allows businesses to scale sustainably without running the risk to for major unforeseen blockspace costs.
Agile Coretime also lays the foundation for major scalability gains for the entire network. This access to abundant blockspace helps Web3 achieve the performance expected by the mass market, which, in turn, unlocks Web3's potential across industries.