New: Wallet recovery made easy with Ledger Recover, provided by Coincover

Get started

Up your Web3 game

Ledger Academy Quests

  • Test your knowledge
  • Earn POK NFTs
Play now See all quests

Relay Chain Meaning

Mar 27, 2023 | Updated Jul 18, 2023
The relay chain acts as the central chain of data in the Polkadot network, a protocol that allows interoperability between different blockchain networks.

What is a Relay Chain?

The relay chain acts as the central chain of data in the Polkadot network, a protocol that allows interoperability between different blockchain networks. It achieved this through the use of a relay chain which coordinates interactions between different parachains or connected blockchains. 

In the Polkadot ecosystem, individual blockchains are referred to as “parachains” or “parallel chains.” Unlike traditional blockchains that process transactions one after the other, parachains process transactions simultaneously with other connected parachains. This parallel processing allows for faster and more efficient transactions across the entire Polkadot network.

Each parachain connected to the relay chain has its own set of validators who are responsible for validating transactions on that chain. The relay chain, however, has a separate set of validators who are responsible for validating transactions that involve communication between different parachains.

The Polkadot relay chain’s main purpose is to ensure that components in the ecosystem coordinate accordingly, including its connected parachains. Other specific tasks are delegated to parachains, which are designed with different features and implementations.

The Polkadot network comprises a shared state, such that the parachains share in the security of the relay chain. If, for some reason, the relay chain reverts, all the parachains connected to it would also revert. This happens to ensure the ecosystem retains its consistent validity and evades having an individual part that is corrupted.

This central chain is also connected to every blockchain bridge in the Polkadot protocol to facilitate transactions or data transfer across the linked chains. However, each chain can exist independently with different protocols, governance mechanisms, rules, and models.

Hash Rate

A hash rate is a measure of the computational and processing power of a cryptocurrency network.

Full definition

Exit Scam

An exit scam is a fraudulent practice of malicious developers or founders disappearing with investors’ funds during or after a project has launched.

Full definition

Layer 0

Layer 0 is the foundational infrastructure on which other blockchains and applications are built.

Full definition