Understand Phala Tokenomics

This article is a preview of Konstantin Shamruk’s upcoming “Phala Economics White Paper V0.9”. It will also be submitted to the Khala Network Council as a proposal, and will be launched after the democratic referendum is passed.

Design targets

The overall economic design is built to address these points:

  1. Support Phala Network’s trustless cloud computing architecture
    • Consensus-Computation Separation
    • Linearly-scalable computing workers (100k order of magnitude number of miners)
  2. Incentivize miners to join the network
    • Ensure payment for power supplied irrespective of demand, especially at network bootstrap
    • Subsidize mining pool with 70% of the initial supply over time
    • Bitcoin-like budget halving schedule
  3. Application pricing
  4. On-chain performance

The following details some key elements of the economic model.

Overall Design

Value Promise ($V$)

  • A virtual score for an individual miner representing value earned which is payable in the future, to motivate miners to behave honestly and reliably
  • Equal to the expected value of the revenues earned by the miner for providing power for the platform
  • Changes dynamically based on the miner’s behaviors and the repayment of Rewards
    • Mining honestly: $V$ grows gradually over time
    • Harmful conduct: punished by reduction of $V$

Initial $V$

A Miner will run a Performance Test and stake some tokens to get the initial $V$:

$$V^e = f(R^e, \text{ConfidenceScore}) \times (S + C)$$

  • $R^e > 1$ is a Stake Multiplier set by the network (Khala or Phala).
  • $S$ is the miner stake; a Minimum Stake is required to start mining. Stake can’t be increased or decreased while mining, but can be set higher than the Minimum.
  • $C$ is the estimated cost of the miner rigs, inferred from the Performance Test.
  • $\text{ConfidenceScore}$ is based on the miner’s SGX capabilities
  • $f(R^e, \text{ConfidenceScore}) = 1 + (\text{ConfidenceScore} \cdot (R^e - 1))$

Params used in simulation:

  • $R^e_{\text{Khala}} = 1.5$
  • $R^e_{\text{Phala}} = 1.3$
  • $\text{ConfidenceScore}$ for different Confidence Levels
    • $\text{ConfidenceScore}_{1,2,3} = 1$
    • $\text{ConfidenceScore}_{4} = 0.8$
    • $\text{ConfidenceScore}_{5} = 0.7$

Performance test

A performance test measures how much computation can be done in a unit time:

$$P = \frac{\text{Iterations}}{\Delta t}$$

For reference,

Platform Cores Score Approximate Price
Low-End Celeron 4 450 $150
Mid-End i5 10-Gen 8 2000 $500
High-End i9 9-Gen 10 2800 $790

The table is based on the version while writing of this doc and is subject to changes.

The performance test will be performed:

  1. Before mining to determine the Minimum Stake
  2. During mining to measure the current performance, and to adjust the $V$ increment dynamically

Minimum Stake

$$S_{min}=k \sqrt{P}$$

  • $P$ - Performance Test score
  • $k$ - adjustable multiplier factor

Proposed parameter:

  • $k_{\text{Khala}} = 50$
  • $k_{\text{Phala}} = 100$

Locked state $PHA token can also be used for mining staking, e.g., Khala Crowdloan reward


$$C = \frac{0.3 P}{\phi}$$

  • $\phi$ is the current PHA/USD quote, dynamically updated on-chain via Oracles
  • $P$ is the initial Performance Test score.
  • In the early stages we are compensating the equipment cost $C$ with a higher Value Promise.
  • In the future we plan to compensate for higher amortization costs (adding equipment amortization cost to the running costs $c^i$ and $c^a$), thus increasing the speed of growth of the Miner’s $V$.

General mining process

Each individual’s $V$ is updated at every block:

  • Increased by $\Delta V_t$ if the worker keeps mining until it meets $V_{max}$
  • Decreased by $w(V_t)$ if the miner got a payout
  • Decreased according to the Slash Rules if the miner misbehaves

When a miner gets a payout $w(V_t)$, they will receive the amount immediately in their Phala wallet. The payout follows Payout Schedule and cannot exceed the Subsidy Budget.

Finally, once the miner decides to stop mining, they will wait for a Cooling Down period $\delta$. They will receive an one-time final payout after the cooldown.

Block number $t$ $t+1$ $\dots$ $T$ $\dots$ $T+\delta$
Value Promise $V_t$ $V_{t+1}$ $\dots$ $V_T$ $\dots$ $\dots$
Payment $w(V_t)$ $w(V_{t+1})$ $\dots$ $w(V_T)$ $0$ $\kappa \min(V_T, V^e)$
Block reward Block reward Cooling off for $\delta$ blocks Final payout

Proposed parameter:

  • $\delta = \text{blocks equivalent to 7 days}$

Update of $V$

When there’s no payout or slash event:

$$\Delta V_t = k_p \cdot \big(\rho^m V_t + c(s_t) + \gamma(V_t)h(V_t)\big)$$

  • $\rho^m$ is the unconditional $V$ increment factor for miner
  • $c(s_t)$ is the operational cost to run the miner
  • $\gamma(V_t)h(V_t)$ represents a factor to compesate for accidental/unintentional slashing (ignored in simulated charts)
  • $k_p = \min(\frac{P_t}{P}, 120\%)$, where $P_t$ is the instant performance score, and $P$ is the initial score

The updated $V$ is capped by the maximum value $V_{max}$:

$$ V_{t+1} = \min(V_t + \Delta V_t, V_{max}) $$

Proposed parameters:

  • $\rho^m_{\text{Khala}} = 1.00020$ (hourly)
  • $\rho^m_{\text{Phala}} = 1.00020$ (hourly)
  • $V_{max} = 30000$

Payout event

In order to stay within the subsidy budget, at every block the budget is distributed proportionally based on the current Miner Shares. However, the payout is also capped to ensure the payout doesn’t cause $V$ to drop lower than it in the last payout event:

$$w(V_t) = \min(B \frac{\text{share}}{\Sigma \text{share}}, V_t - V_\text{last}),$$

where $B$ is the current network subsidy budget for the given payout period, and $V_\text{last}$ is the value promised at the last payout event, or $V^e$ if this is the first payout.

Capping the payout is necessary to make sure miners are well incentives to always accumulate credits in the network. Otherwise if V decreases over the time, miners are incentivezed to constantly reset their mining session.

Whenever $w(V_t)$ is paid to a miner, his $V$ will be updated accordingly:

$$\Delta V = -w(V_t).$$

Share represents how much the miner is paid out from $V$. We expect it will approximate the share baseline, but with minor adjustment to reflect the property of the worker:

$$\text{share}_{\text{Baseline}} = V_t.$$

Proposed algorithm:

  • $\text{share}_{\text{Khala}} = \sqrt{V_t^2 + (2 P_t \cdot \text{ConfidenceScore})^2}$
  • $\text{share}_{\text{Phala}} = \sqrt{V_t^2 + (2 P_t \cdot \text{ConfidenceScore})^2}$
  • $P_t$ is the instant performance score

Subsidy Budget

Total Khala Phala
Relaychain / Kusama Polkadot
Budget for Mining 700 mln 10 mln 690 mln
Halving Period / 45 days 180 days
Halving Discount 25% per period 25% 25%
Treasure Share / 20% 20%
First Month Reward / 1.8 mln 21.6 mln

Heartbeat & Payout Schedule

In any block $t$, if the Miner’s VRF is smaller than their current Heartbeat Threshold $\gamma(V_t)$, they must send the Heartbeat transaction to the chain, which will update the on-chain record of their Value Promise and send a Mining Reward $w(V_t)$ to their reward wallet:

$$\Delta V_t = - w(V_t).$$

If they fail to send the Heartbeat transaction to the chain within the challenge window, the update of their value promise will be

$$\Delta V_t = - h(V_t),$$

and their status is changed to unresponsive, and they will get repeatedly punished until they send a heartbeat, or stop mining. The slash amount $h$ is defined in the Slash section.

The target is to process around 20 heartbeat challenges per block. The heartbeat challenge probability $\gamma(V_t)$ will be adjusted to target this number of challenges.

Potential parameters:

  • $\text{ChallengeWindow} = 10$ (blocks)

Slash rules

The slash rules for miners are defined below. Note that currently only the Level 1 slash is currently implemented.

Severity Fault Punishment
Level1 Worker offline 0.1% V per hour (deducted block by block)
Level2 Good faith with bad result 1% from V
Level3 Malicious intent or mass error 10% from V
Level4 Serious security risk to the system 100% from V

Final payout

When a miner chooses to disconnect from the platform, they send an Exit Transaction and receives their Severance Pay after $\delta$ blocks.

After the cooling down period, the miner gets their final payout, representing the return of the initial stake. However, if $V_T$ goes lower than the initial $V^e$, the miner will get less stake returned as a punishment:

$$w(T + \sigma) = \min(\frac{V_T}{V^e}, 100%) \cdot S$$

where $S$ is the initial stake.