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Acquiring and managing cycles

What are ICP cycles?

The Internet Computer blockchain (IC) provides an execution environment for canisters. The Internet Computer consists of hundreds of nodes that are run by node providers. Node providers use infrastructure (CPUs, RAM, and storage) and resources (electricity and network bandwidth) to run the platform. To make the Internet Computer sustainable, developers need to pay for the resources consumed by their canisters. Cycles are used to pay for the resources used by canisters.

Cycles are not currency. You can use ICP tokens to purchase cycles and transfer them to a container called a "cycles wallet."

When a canister needs more cycles, a developer can transfer them from the wallet to the canister. Active canisters deployed to the IC continuously burn cycles and need to be "topped-up" to keep working.

Why are cycles different from ICP tokens?

Cycles are different from ICP tokens to ensure that the price of hosting a canister is not volatile. This helps decrease the risk of building dapps becoming economically infeasible if the ICP token price increases.

Cycles are measured in very large numbers, such as billions and trillions. When you talk about cycle transfers and replenishment, you will usually operate with trillions of cycles.


To further explore cycle management please see the following articles: