ICE and SNOW — ICON’s Entry Into the Polkadot Ecosystem

You thought ICE was it? We’ve got something to SNOW you.

ICON Foundation
Dec 22, 2021 · 5 min read

Earlier this year, we officially unveiled ICE – a brand new EVM-compatible blockchain designed to serve as the decentralized application hub for the ICON ecosystem. ICE is built on the Substrate open source blockchain development framework that powers a variety of top projects including Polkadot, Kusama, Chainlink, Moonbeam, and more.

As a Substrate-based chain, ICE will be able to plug directly into the Polkadot ecosystem as an EVM-compatible and BTP-optimized application chain – and that’s what we intend to do.

An Overview of the Polkadot Ecosystem

The Polkadot ecosystem consists of two primary chains – Polkadot and Kusama. Polkadot is the ecosystem’s flagship chain for production-ready apps. While Kusama is often portrayed as a Polkadot testnet, it’s actually very far from that. Kusama is a highly-developed “canary network” for cutting-edge development. Like Polkadot’s DOT token, Kusama’s KSM token also has very liquid markets–this wouldn’t be the case if it were a mere testnet.

Polkadot and Kusama share a similar multi-chain architecture consisting of a relay chain with connected parachains. A parachain is an application-specific blockchain built with Substrate. The relay chain secures and facilitates communication between parachains.

Polkadot’s parachain model. (Source: Polkadot)

The key difference between Polkadot’s interoperability design and ICON’s Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP) is that Polkadot’s relay chain only connects parachains, while BTP is chain-agnostic and can be integrated with any smart contract-enabled blockchain.

Polkadot and Kusama support a maximum of 100 parachain slots, which are routinely leased in highly-competitive auctions. This means a parachain slot is a scarce resource that grants access to Polkadot’s decentralized computing resources, expanding ecosystem, and brand recognition. Recent parachain launches include Moonbeam, Acala, and Astar–three widely anticipated projects targeting EVM compatibility, DeFi, and multi-chain dApps.

ICE and SNOW — Our Parachain Strategy

As an EVM-compatible chain, ICE provides an environment for deploying Solidity smart contracts, but this in itself is not enough of a differentiator to drive ICE and ICON adoption. There are plenty of EVM-compatible chains out there, so what makes ICE different?

ICE is the only EVM-compatible parachain that is also optimized for ICON’s BTP. This means in addition to a baseline BTP integration, ICE will also receive additional optimizations to maximize performance and reliability. With a heavily-optimized BTP integration, our goal is to secure a Polkadot parachain slot and position ICE as a flagship chain within the Polkadot ecosystem that showcases industry-leading cross-chain applications — all powered by ICON’s BTP.

As the primary connection between the ICON and Polkadot ecosystems, ICE will also provide developers with unmatched access to both the ICON BTP and Polkadot interchain networks, as well as their respective communities. This means a developer building on ICE automatically gets access to Polkadot parachains like Moonbeam, Acala, and Astar, as well as optimized connections to BTP-integrated chains like Binance Smart Chain, NEAR Protocol, Harmony, and more.

SNOW — The ICE Canary Network

Have you ever heard the saying, “every ice queen needs a snow princess”?

Don’t worry, we haven’t either until now.

As we highlighted earlier, our goal with ICE is to secure a Polkadot parachain slot. In the Polkadot ecosystem, many projects launch on Kusama (Polkadot’s canary network) before competing for a Polkadot parachain slot. For example, Moonriver on Kusama is the canary network to Moonbeam on Polkadot. ICE will employ a similar strategy by first launching the SNOW canary network on Kusama before targeting an ICE launch on Polkadot later on.

As a cutting-edge development environment with real-world value, SNOW will provide developers with access to the latest code releases as well as an experimental environment to conduct application tests that are not possible on a traditional testnet with valueless tokens.

Since SNOW is a separate network from ICE, it will not use the $ICY token. Instead the SNOW canary network will have its own token–$ICZ.

The $ICY and $ICZ Snapshot

At block height 44,123,130 (approximately 4 AM UTC on December 29, 2021), we will take a snapshot of the ICON blockchain. This snapshot will be used for a 1:1 airdrop for both $ICY and $ICZ tokens to qualifying $ICX and $sICX holders.

In order to qualify, your $ICX or $sICX must fulfill one of the conditions below:

  • $ICX or $sICX in a non-custodial wallet like Hana or ICONex. A non-custodial wallet is one that you control the private key to.
  • $ICX or $sICX deposited into Balanced (Collateral and LP) or Omm (Collateral).
  • $ICX deposited into ICONFi.

Please note that exchanges have not announced support for the $ICY or $ICZ snapshot, so we recommend withdrawing your $ICX from exchanges to a private wallet as soon as possible to ensure participation in the snapshot.

$ICY Token Release Details

$ICY, the native token of the ICE blockchain, will be vested over multiple years to incentivize the longer-term health of the network. Upon launch of the ICE network, 20% of the airdropped tokens will be available to claim. The remaining tokens will be unlocked over a 3-year period. A detailed $ICY vesting schedule will be provided at a later time.

$ICZ Token Release Details

$ICZ, the native token of the SNOW blockchain, will not have a vesting period. Instead, 100% of the airdropped tokens will be available to claim prior to the official launch of the SNOW blockchain.

Summary

We are excited to join Polkadot’s growing ecosystem with the ICE and SNOW blockchains. Our vision for ICE is the industry’s most-connected EVM-compatible blockchain with unprecedented access to both BTP-connected chains and Polkadot’s interchain network, and we look forward to working alongside the ICON community to achieve this goal. We will be sharing more information about ICE and SNOW in the coming days, so be sure to follow @icenetwork_io on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest developments!

If you have any questions about ICE or SNOW, please join the official ICON Community Discord Server to join in on the discussion.

Hello ICON World

ICON is an interoperability solution designed to connect all blockchains.

Hello ICON World

Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP) is ICON’s flagship product that is a scalable interoperability solution that is blockchain agnostic, secure, and lightning fast.

ICON Foundation

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Founded in 2017, the ICON Foundation is an interoperable layer one blockchain, connecting all blockchain networks using ICON’s BTP Technology.

Hello ICON World

Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP) is ICON’s flagship product that is a scalable interoperability solution that is blockchain agnostic, secure, and lightning fast.