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logoInternet Computer (ICP)

A General-Purpose Blockchain for Building Applications.
  • The Internet Computer is a general-purpose blockchain, incubated and launched by the DFINITY Foundation in May 2021.
  • It aims to become a ‘world computer’ by hosting dapps.
  • To realize this vision, the Internet Computer can scale both transactions per second and on-chain storage with demand. Most importantly, the cost of computing is stable, unlike legacy blockchains.
  • The main innovation behind the Internet Computer is Chain Key Cryptography, which offers features such as:
    • Network Nervous System (NNS) DAO: An open, permissionless, and decentralized algorithmic system governing the Internet Computer, which automatically upgrades the protocol based on proposals adopted by the community, and continuously adds new nodes allowing the blockchain network to infinitely scale.
    • Low On-Chain Data Storage Costs: As of January 2022, data storage on the Internet Computer costs around $0.46 per 1 GB / month or $5.60 per 1 GB / year. The low cost allows entrepreneurs and developers to run dapps entirely on-chain.
    • User-Friendly Experience: The Internet Computer runs smart contracts that directly serve HTTP calls to users, which means dapps on the Internet Computer have the same Web2 experience.
    • Reverse Gas Model: Cycles are the computational resource (aka, gas) required to execute transactions on the Internet Computer. Unlike legacy blockchains, the Internet Computer has a reverse-gas model where developers pay to run dapps. The Internet Computer lowers the barrier for mass-market adoption by allowing users to interact with dapps without needing tokens or token wallets.
    • Anonymity: Internet Identity allows the anonymization of blockchain authentication systems by leveraging cryptographically enabled devices such as the fingerprint sensor (TouchID) on a laptop, FaceID system on mobile, or portable HSM devices such as YubiKey and Ledger wallet.
    • Sovereign Infrastructure: Similar to the Bitcoin network, the Internet Computer does not depend on centralized cloud nodes.
    • Infinite Scalability: The Internet Computer’s partitioning into subnet blockchains allows the network to infinitely scale. Each subnet (aka, mini blockchain), is composed of 13 to 37 nodes.
    • Lightning Fast Speed: The Internet Computer blockchain is designed to consistently process an immense volume of updates and transactions without compromising on speed, security, sovereignty, or decentralization.
  • ICP is the native utility token of the Internet Computer, and is used in the following functions:
    • Governance: ICP token holders may stake ICP in the Network Nervous System (NNS) to create "Neurons" to vote on governance proposals and earn voting rewards.
    • Gas: ICP tokens can be burned and converted into cycles (aka, gas), which are used by developers to pay for computation and storage costs for their decentralized applications running on the network via canister smart contracts.
  • The protocol consists of the following major components working in conjunction:
    • Internet Computer Consensus (ICC): The novel consensus mechanism is divided into four layers: a notary layer, blockchain layer, random beacon layer, and identity layer.
    • Neurons: Neurons allow users to stake their ICP utility tokens to vote on governance proposals that upgrade the network. Users earn rewards ranging from 11% to 22% annualized returns for voting on proposals. Developers can also unstake their ICP and convert them into cycles to pay for computation and storage.
    • Cycles: Cycles are the computational resource, i.e., the ‘gas’, required to execute actions on the network.
    • Canisters Smart Contracts: A canister smart contract is an evolution of traditional, limited first-generation smart contracts. Canisters consist of WebAssembly code and memory. Unlike legacy blockchains, cycles are paid by developers, ensuring users don’t pay for gas fees and removing a major adoption barrier for users.
    • Mokoto: While Internet Computer developers can build dapps using any language that compiles to WebAssembly such as Rust, Go, C/C++, TypeScript, Java, Python, Ruby, Swift, etc. Motoko is a new programming language designed for building dapps on the Internet Computer.
  • As at March 24th 2022, the total supply of ICP is 478,665,840 and the current circulating supply is 215,651,748 (~45%).