Learn what parachain on Polkadot mainnet are.

As mentioned, parachains are deployable blockchains on the Polkadot network that allow developers unprecedented access to interoperable and scalable blockchain infrastructure. The introduction of parachains on Polkadot’s mainnet represents the fifth and final phase of Polkadot’s launch. However, for a parachain to exist, it must inhabit a parachain slot. There are a limited number of such parachain slots available in the network, and it is possible that only a few slots may become unlocked every few months to host parachains. It is hoped that there will eventually be 100 parachain slots available. Occupying a slot is necessary to guarantee that blocks produced will be included at every Relay Chain block. Who gets to occupy a parachain slot is determined by a parachain auction.

Parachain slot durations are capped at 2 years and divided into 3-month periods. By splitting each period into a 3-month duration, the protocol can cater to both big and small players alike. For example, a wealthy parachain could buy a slot in an auction yet not require full use of all periods. This would allow smaller project access to periods that aren’t used by the wealthier player. Parachain slots are fungible, meaning they do not need to inhabit the same slot, but as long as any slot is inhabited they can continue as a parachain. Outside of candle auctions, parachains can be bought and sold on secondary markets, where a winning slot owner can re-sell their slot to another party. This would include the transfer of the deposit tokens locked up as well.

As of June 2021, parachain auctions and parachains themselves are scheduled for roll-out on the Kusama blockchain (Polkadot’s canary network) before inclusion in the Polkadot main chain.

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