Polkadot Community Backs JAM Overhaul

Polkadot plans to move away from its parachain architecture

By: Samuel Haig Loading...

Polkadot Community Backs JAM Overhaul

Polkadot is set to move away from its parachain architecture in favor of a new design offering computation including smart contract execution from its base layer.

On June 13, the Polkadot community ratified a proposal to update its base Relay Chain with the Join-Accumulate Machine (JAM).

JAM would overhaul Polkadot’s existing Layer 0 architecture, where its relay chain exclusively facilitates DOT staking and transfers. Polkadot currently allows Layer 1 parachains to leverage the relay chain’s consensus layer for security, with parachains providing advanced functionality including smart contract execution.

"JAM is built as a distributed computer, capable of executing nearly any task expressible as a service,” Polkadot said. “[JAM] embodies a permissionless, simplistic, generalized, minimalistic design for maximizing the number of applications.”

Parachains will continue to operate on top of JAM. Appchains and protocols deploying on JAM will purchase computation resources on a monthly basis, rather than bid for long-term parachain slots through Polkadot’s existing parachain auction mechanism.

Polkadot is launching a $10 million DOT prize pool for “JAM Implementers” to promote the development of multiple clients for JAM.

Polkadot was created by Ethereum co-founder, Gavin Wood. Through Polkadot’s parachain architecture, Wood sought to realize the vision for sharding articulated early in Ethereum’s development, where computation is split across an ecosystem of multiple chains operating in parallel.

The Polkadot whitepaper was published in 2016, followed by a nine-figure funding round to bootstrap the project. Polkadot launched on mainnet in 2017.

Parachain adoption falls flat

Polkadot’s first round of parachain auctions created significant buzz in 2021. Nearly 128 million DOT ($2.9 billion at the time) or 11% of the supply was locked up by crowdloan contributors as of the first 13 parachains were completed in May 2022.

However, parachain adoption has since lagged behind that of rival Layer 1 and Layer 2 networks.

Acala is currently the top parachain by total value locked with $83.9 million, according to DeFi Llama, despite the project attracting 32.5 million DOT (worth nearly $1.4 billion at the time) to secure the first parachain slot in November 2021.

Astar, which launched an Ethereum Layer 2 in March, comes in 2nd with $49.5 million despite the project garnering 10.75 million DOT worth nearly $382 million to secure the third parachain slot in December 2021. Moonbeam hosts $46.4 million in TVL despite amassing 35.76 million DOT worth 1.46 billion at the time to win the second slot in late November 2021.

The price of DOT is down 2.22% in the past 24 hours, according to The Defiant’s price feeds.