Feeds

Enter Avalanche: P2P filesharing from Microsoft

Doo-da-da-da...doo-da-da-da

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

Researchers at Microsoft's computer science lab in Cambridge have developed a peer-to-peer filesharing system that they say overcomes the scheduling problems associated with existing distribution protocols such as Bit Torrent.

The researchers claim download times are between 20-30 per cent faster, using their network coding approach, than on systems that only code at the server, and between 200 and 300 per cent faster than distributing un-encoded information.

Naturally, Microsoft is very keen to stress that this technology should be used for distributing legitimate content. It even put that in italics in the press material.

The basic principle of the system, dubbed Avalanche, is pretty much the same as BitTorrent. Certainly the problem it solves is: a large file needs to be distributed to many people. One server does not have the bandwidth to deal with all that traffic, so you need to find another way of getting the file to everyone who needs it.

If the file is broken up into smaller pieces, these can be distributed among a smaller number of people, who can then share the pieces to make sure they all eventually have the complete file.

The problem with this approach, as anyone who has ever tried to download content on the system - legitimate or otherwise - knows, is that towards the end of a download, any one downloader could have a while to wait for the particular pieces he needs. As the number of receivers increases, scheduling traffic also becomes more complex, and the whole process slows down.

Microsoft Research's approach gets around this by re-encoding all the pieces, so that each one that is shared is actually a linear combination of all the pieces, fed into a particular function. The blocks are then distributed with a tag that describes the parameters it contains.

Once you have downloaded a few of these, you can generate new combinations from the ones you have, and send those out to your peers. Collect enough of these pieces, and you will have enough information to reconstruct the whole file. Even if you don't have all the original pieces distributed by the person who held the original version of the file.

Peers can make use of any new piece, instead of having to wait for specific chunks that are missing. This means no one peer can become a bottle neck, since no piece is more important than any other. It also means overall network traffic is lower, since the same information doesn't have to travel back and forth multiple times.

Nifty, no?

Have a read of the research paper here (pdf), if this is your kind of thing. ®

Related stories

Spaniards stick sword in P2P website
High Court orders ISPs to name file-sharers
German court protects P2P ne'er-do-well

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.