Polkadot’s JAM now set to unlock new horizon of opportunities

Gavin Wood introduced the next evolutionary step for the Polkadot network: the Join-Accumulate Machine, or JAM

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At the Token2049 conference in Dubai, Gavin Wood, the visionary behind Polkadot, introduced the next evolutionary step for the Polkadot network: the Join-Accumulate Machine (JAM). This ambitious upgrade aims to revolutionize the blockchain landscape by combining the best features of Ethereum and Polkadot into a single, powerful framework.

On May 28th, by near-unanimous decision, the upgrade was approved via vote with backing from over 31 million DOT tokens. 

Polkadot has also introduced the JAM Implementer’s Prize, a 10 million DOT reward pool aiming to encourage the creation of client implementations and enhance the network’s resilience.

JAM: The basics and why it’s needed

To understand the significance of JAM, it’s crucial to grasp the foundations laid by Ethereum and Polkadot.

Ethereum, akin to a bustling downtown area, enables various applications to run on its main blockchain but suffers from heavy traffic and high gas fees. Polkadot, on the other hand, is designed like a network of independent city districts (parachains) connected to a central hub (relay chain), allowing for greater scalability and specialized applications. However, Polkadot’s relay chain is constrained by its design to primarily support parachains, limiting the ability to run diverse services directly on the chain.

JAM steps in to address these limitations, offering increased flexibility and ease of deployment for developers. 

It combines Ethereum’s smart contract functionality with Polkadot’s parachain architecture, providing shared security and native scalability. JAM introduces a transactionless environment, where applications handle transactions independently and support multi-core computation, allowing for parallel processing of numerous chains and programs.

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Moreover, JAM integrates smart contracts and zero-knowledge rollups (ZK-rollups) natively—enhancing functionality and scalability—and supports the UTXO model, similar to Bitcoin’s accounting framework.

JAM also introduces the SAFROLE Algorithm, a simplified, SNARK-based block production algorithm that enhances anonymity and minimizes forks. Additionally, it supports XCMP for efficient cross-chain communication, which is critical for maintaining manageable Proof of Validity sizes. 

The protocol will support existing parachains, allowing developers to continue using Substrate for blockchain deployment, and will only interact with DOT; no new token will be issued.

JAM’s performance targets

JAM aims to support around 350 cores with a 6-second execution time and 5MB input each, totaling approximately 2.3 Gbps. This results in a 3x of the current parachain computation.

JAM will be built with an 850 mb/s throughput as the target. This positions it significantly ahead of many other blockchains, with Ethereum processing 1.3 mb/s and Solana at 125 mb/s (after the Solana Firedancer update, the blockchain will be at 1,250 mb/s).

Notably, JAM will be transactionless; all actions will be permissionless and initially undergo a Refine stage. During this stage, “the service pre-refines input data, transforming it into work reports consisting of work results. Subsequently, these work results are transferred onto the chain.”

Incentives for development

To foster innovation, the Web3 Foundation has announced a 10 million DOT prize pool to incentivize developers to implement JAM. This prize aims to catalyze diverse implementations, enhancing the overall functionality of the JAM network and boosting network security.

Additionally, the JAM Toaster, a robust testing environment, simulates a full-scale JAM network with over 1,000 nodes. It’s meant to conduct “large-scale trials and performance assessments of JAM,” which will address prior challenges that the Polkadot team faced when developing the Polkadot relay chain. This infrastructure allows developers to optimize their implementations and ensures a smooth-running final network.

Polkadot’s bright future

While still in its early stages, JAM holds the promise of transforming Polkadot into a powerful, scalable blockchain platform. By enabling multi-core processing, integrating smart contracts and ZK-rollups, and pioneering a transactionless environment, JAM paves the way for tremendous innovation for the Polkadot ecosystem.

As development progresses, JAM could lead the path to a new era of scalable and efficient blockchain technology, solidifying Polkadot’s position at the forefront of Web3 innovation.

You can learn more about JAM in the Gray Paper and the Polkadot Wiki.

This content is sponsored by Polkadot and does not serve as an endorsement by Blockworks. The veracity of this content has not been verified and should not serve as financial advice. We encourage readers to conduct their own research before making financial decisions.  


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