The Primary Network is the overarching structure of the ecosystem, responsible for validation. The C-Chain is a smart contract-capable blockchain compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). On the C-Chain, developers can set up and run Ethereum-based DApps, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and ERC-20 tokens. The P-Chain is where developers can build their blockchains, and the X-Chain is a network within the Avalanche ecosystem that facilitates asset construction and trading.
The Avalanche ecosystem relies on subnetworks, or subnets, for blockchain validation. Subnets are groups of nodes (validators within subnets) that determine blockchain consensus in the Avalanche ecosystem. Each blockchain has one subnet responsible for its validation, but a subnet may validate more than one blockchain, and a node can be part of multiple subnets. The C-Chain and P-Chain use a consensus mechanism called Snowman, a proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism. The X-Chain operates according to the Avalanche consensus protocol, which is a framework that includes Snowman as part of a directed acyclic graph (DAG) structure.
To become a node in the Avalanche ecosystem, an individual must stake 2,000 or more AVAX and operate as a node in the Primary Network (a subnet that functions as the overarching structure over the other ecosystem components). After that, a node can also participate in additional subnets if desired. The AVAX coin is used as a unit of account, as the currency for fee payment and staking within the Avalanche ecosystem. Its price fluctuates with other cryptocurrency market assets.