Assignment 1: BitTorrent Live

BitTorrent Live is a powerful new web-based live streaming technology. Designed to deliver high quality video to large audiences – with significant reduction in infrastructure cost and network delays, Live is an entirely new protocol to eliminate barriers to broadcast. It took nearly half a decade before BitTorrent’s live stream service was released to the public. One of the main reasons is that it has been quite a challenge to make it work seamlessly. BitTorrent Live is currently in open beta.

Hoping to revolutionize live broadcasting on the Internet, Bram Cohen has filed a patent application for the new BitTorrent Live streaming protocol. BitTorrent’s inventor has worked on the new technology for several years and believes his new protocol can be world-changing. “Doing live streaming well on the Internet has long been a problem. Peer to peer live-streaming has always suffered from high latency, meaning there is typically a lot of delay between when a broadcast happens and when end users see it, typically dozens of seconds or minutes,” Cohen says.

“BitTorrent Live allows a broadcaster to stream to millions of people with just a few seconds of latency. This is new, and unique, and potentially world-changing,” he adds.

 

How it works (Basics)

BitTorrent Live is a complex technology but basically works by dividing peers into various “clubs” of peers who share data among each other via a UDP screamer protocol. “To get slightly more technical, the way BitTorrent Live works is by making subsets of peers responsible for subsets of data. High robustness and low latency is achieved by using a screamer protocol between those peers,” Cohen explains.

“For the last hop it uses a non-screamer protocol to regain congestion control and efficiency. There is redundancy and some waste in the screaming, but that’s kept under control by only using it to get data to a small fraction of the peers.”

Those who are interested in trying out BitTorrent Live can do so here. The more people  join, the better it gets.
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