Subnets on Avalanche: Revolutionizing Blockchain Design (Part 2)

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What is an Avalanche?

Avalanche is an open-source platform that enables developers to create decentralized applications (dApps) with high scalability, low transaction fees, and fast confirmation times. It is a heterogeneous network of blockchains that allow separate chains to be created for different applications, unlike homogeneous networks where all applications reside in the same chain. The platform uses a unique consensus mechanism called Avalanche Consensus, which uses a combination of Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) to achieve high throughput and security.

Modules of Avalanche:

  • Subnet: A blockchain is validated by one Subnet. 
  • Genesis: It contains the initial configuration code of the Subnet and some minting parameters. 
  • Virtual Machine: It is the operative code of a blockchain specifying its state, transition function, transactions, and API for user interaction. Every blockchain on Avalanche is an instance of a virtual machine. 

When writing a virtual machine, you don’t need to worry about lower-level details like networking, consensus, or blockchain structure. Avalanche handles these behind the scenes, allowing you to focus on building what you want. 

Think of a virtual machine as a blueprint for a blockchain. You can use the same virtual machine blueprint to create multiple blockchains, each following the same ruleset but logically independent of each other. 


Subnets are essentially new networks capable of hosting multiple blockchains, each with its own consensus process and virtual machine. They are independent networks that handle their own execution logic, fee regime, state, networking, and security i.e., the Subnet can create rulesets for their validators and launch their own blockchains with customized virtual machines. They don’t share execution thread, storage, or networking resources with other Subnets inclusive of the Primary Network, allowing the network to scale up easily while enabling lower latency, higher transactions per second (TPS), and lower transaction costs provided by the Avalanche Consensus.

Avalanche has 3 built-in blockchains: Platform Chain (P-Chain), Contract Chain (C-Chain) and Exchange Chain (X-Chain) which are validated and secured by all Avalanche validators that compose a special Subnet and are referred to as the Primary Network.

All members of all Subnets must also be a member of the Primary Network. The Primary Network is a special Subnet that contains all validators (including validators of custom Subnets). Herein, a node can become a validator for the Primary Network by staking at least 2,000 AVAX.

All Avalanche validators must validate the three chains i.e., the Primary Network which forms the baseline of Avalanche and makes the connectivity between Subnets easier to implement and ensure a more native experience.

In order to become a member of the Primary Network, you must stake some AVAX tokens.

Thus, one can think of Subnets like a zone within the Cosmos ecosystem, but with the added benefit of having direct access to a set of validators ready to validate your Subnet’s blockchain(s). Validators on Avalanche will simply add your Subnets ID to their node configuration and download the custom virtual machine binary used. Once completed, validators will begin syncing to your Subnet and start to validate the required.


Today, all Subnets (other than the Primary Network) run a single blockchain. In the future, Subnets could possibly run multiple blockchains.

Advantages of Subnets

A Subnet manages its own membership, creates its own token economics and rules, and may require that its constituent validators have certain properties w.r.t. hardware requirements.

  • Independent Token Economics: Subnets can have their own token economics with their own native tokens and fee markets. Furthermore, they can launch their own blockchains with customized virtual machines. 
  • Application-Specific Requirements: Different blockchain-based applications may require specified validators to have certain properties. Suppose there is an application that requires a large amount of RAM/ CPU power. Herein, a Subnet could require that the validators meet certain hardware requirements so that the application doesn’t suffer from low performance. 
  • Support for Private Blockchains: A Subnet can be created for certain predefined validators that may join and create a private Subnet where the contents of the blockchains would be only visible to the required validators. This is ideal for organizations interested in keeping their information private/secure. 
  • Separation of Concerns: In a heterogeneous network of blockchains, some validators do not want to validate certain blockchains because they simply have no interest in those. The Subnet model allows validators to only concern themselves with blockchains they care about, reducing the burden on validators. 
  • Network Creation: Subnets allow anybody to quickly establish permissioned or permissionless networks with unique implementations that are powerful, dependable, and secure. 
  • Validator Flexibility: Each blockchain is validated by one Subnet, and a Subnet can validate multiple blockchains. A validator can be a member of multiple Subnets. 

The addition of Subnets gives validators the opportunity to validate additional blockchains on Avalanche. So why would one create a Subnet?  

A Subnet on Avalanche can be thought of as a second layer on Ethereum or a Parachain on Polkadot, but with a fully isolated state (no shared security), with more flexibility in design and implementation. Anyone on an Avalanche can create a Subnet by burning one AVAX token and paying some small additional fees, with no rules on their design. 

Subnets can include multiple blockchains, unique virtual machines, rule sets, and requirements for participation. This makes the immense possibilities of Subnets virtually limitless. As a general rule, a minimum of five validators should be set (Avalanche validator requirements). You may set the required below the same, but it’s not recommended because doing so can lead to the Subnet being immediately shut down if even a single validator stops functioning.

To Sum Up,

Subnets are a powerful feature of the Avalanche network that offer a high degree of customization and flexibility. By allowing users to create their own subnets, Avalanche enables businesses and organizations to tailor their networks to their specific needs, whether that means creating a private network for internal use or a public network for customer transactions. With Subnets, it’s possible to achieve greater scalability and security, while also reducing costs and improving network performance. And because Subnets are fully interoperable with the rest of the Avalanche network, users can enjoy all the benefits of the larger network while still maintaining full control over their own Subnets.  

Now, are you ready to discover the secret to unlocking the full potential of Subnets? Do you want to learn how to streamline your deployment process and maximize your network’s efficiency? Then don’t wait any longer! Head to the final part of this blog and discover the secrets to successful Avalanche node deployment


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