Polkadot & Kusama Parathreads Explained
Parathreads lower the economic barrier to entry for projects that wish to leverage Polkadot and Kusama’s network security, consensus mechanisms, transaction settlement functions and resources.
Access to parachain slots must be either won through a parachain slot auction (which may require a substantial amount of DOT or KSM) or in limited circumstances, may be granted a slot outside the auction process as a “public goods” chain. If a project cannot or is not interested in winning an auction, or does not want to commit to a fixed duration for parachain slot access (up to 48 weeks on Kusama and an expected 48 months on Polkadot), the project can instead access Kusama or Polkadot's network resources as a parathread. Parathreads provide projects “pay-as-you-go” access to the Polkadot and Kusama networks, with no fixed duration or up-front costs.
Parathreads are very similar to parachains in potential functionality, but they differ in the economical model. Each transaction a parathread commits to the Relay Chain requires payment of a fee that is larger than the fee being offered by other parathreads on the network. Because of this, parathreads may be a beneficial model for some projects (e.g., those that rarely need to commit transactions to the Relay Chain) while being problematic for others (e.g., those that must constantly commit transactions to the Relay Chain).
Parathreads vs. Parachains
Importantly, when a parachain slot auction winner’s parachain access expires, the project must either obtain a new slot to continue operating as a parachain, or be automatically converted to a parathread. Thus, all parachain auction participants should familiarize themselves with the mechanics of, and trade-offs involved in, operating as a parathread.
Parathreads may also be used by various other types of projects looking to leverage Polkadot or Kusama, including projects looking for an on-ramp to the network, projects that do not want to participate in a parachain slot auction, and projects that have more reads than writes.
Useful Polkadot and Kusama Parathread Resources
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