BitTorrent creator demos live streaming protocol

Bram Cohen, the brain behind the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol, is at it again. According to TorrentFreak, Cohen has been working on a peer-to-peer live streaming protocol that appears to be based loosely on BitTorrent. Extensive changes have been made, however. In a bid to improve efficiency and reduce latency, Cohen ditched TCP for the new protocol, which also uses different congestion control algorithms. Here’s a demo of the system in action:

The demo reveals a few seconds of latency, but that seems entirely reasonable for peer-to-peer streaming. After all, it’s already common for broadcasters to delay live feeds by a few seconds just in case they need to edit out colorful language or a wardrobe malfunction.

During the demo, Cohen reveals that the streaming protocol probably won’t be finished until the summer. The developer appears to be taking his time, telling TorrentFreak that “doing live properly is a hard problem, and while I could have a working thing relatively quickly, I’m doing everything the ‘right’ way.” TorrentFreak goes on to point out that BitTorrent will turn ten years old in July, making that month a likely target for the official launch. In other news, BitTorrent is nearly ten years old—and still going strong.

Comments closed
    • highlandr
    • 9 years ago

    Anybody else feel old when you heard about the 10 year anniversary of bittorrent? Man, I remember when it was the BOSS. Sites like Bytemonsoon, torrentbits, boxtorrents, and of course the original suprnova.org…

    Good times, good times. Plenty of “Linux ISOs” and “Public Domain Works” downloaded these past 9+ years…

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    This will be awesome.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    skype is peer to peer. it also offers video chat. I LOVE YOUR SHIRT!! WHEN I’M ON TV, I WEAR EXTREME T SHIRTS TOO!

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      oh, i guess you don’t like extreme shirts. WELL TOO BAD FOR YOU.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Reminded me of my brother, also a developer. That is the exact kind of shirt he wears daily. Weekly. Yearly. Exit the basement brother!

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Cool. Except it wasn’t just a few seconds of latency, you can clearly see the video pausing over and over again. Over gigabit, that is quite concerning.

    • Johnny5
    • 9 years ago

    On one hand it’s great for hosts who are always complaining that it’s hard to afford their servers, on the other hand the users will use a lot more bandwidth themselves as they have to send as well as receive. I’m usually close enough to my 60GB/month limit as is. I (and I would think most people) don’t watch that many live streams anyways, yet that many people on at once creates a much higher server demand than the site usually has to be able to support (on sites that don’t do live streams all the time). So I guess it is a big benefit for the sites, and user benefit from increased availability of live streams will more than offset the problem from increased bandwidth.

      • Metalianman
      • 9 years ago

      hold on. did u say 60GB/month limit? the ISPs in the US have gone positively insane!!! I had to move back to Greece and even here, with a 6mbit connection (slow as hell comparing to what I was used to in UK) I download more than 100GB a month. Actually, for the past 4 months I’ve been living here I don’t think I’ve ever been below 160GB/month! When I was in UK the number was closer to half a TB. 60GB/month? that’s not enough for HD youtube nowdays!!!

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 9 years ago

        I doubt he is in the US, it’s mostly unlimited bandwidth here. Well they get mad if you upload too much.

          • Johnny5
          • 9 years ago

          Rogers in Canada. And when you go over $2 is added to your bill for every gigabyte. I have gone over multiple times. I rarely watch anything in HD. Oh, and I live in a household of seven people. Luckily the rest of them don’t use that much usually. There plans range from two gig limits to 175 gig limits (for which you need their cable service to get). Their major competitor Bell goes from 2 gigs alway the way up to a cool 75 gigs.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        Comcast, the U.S.’s largest ISP is 250G a month, and I bet they raise that in the next few years. I pay $70/month for 28/8 speeds, last I checked.

    • grantmeaname
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]In a bid to improve efficiency and reduce latency, Cohen ditched TCP for the new protocol[/quote<] Does this mean his new protocol handles TCP's functions, or that it runs on top of UDP or something similar?

      • Firestarter
      • 9 years ago

      I’m pretty sure it runs on top of UDP, without implementing all of the functions that TCP offers. I guess it won’t attempt to re-transmit lost packets for example, the peer on the receiving side could maybe get it from another peer instead. Also, it’s a good idea to couple the link speed to the bitrate of the video, so it sends less data when there’s less bandwidth available.

      In short, I guess it’s all pretty lossy just to make sure that the stream is up and running with low latency, with quality being considered a luxury afforded by excessive bandwidth.

    • Firestarter
    • 9 years ago

    Any idea if the protocol is going to be open and free to implement/use? There are already live P2P streaming programs in use but they seem to be proprietary.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 9 years ago

    THIS IS INCREDIBLE. WEBCAM HAS BEEN INVENTED.

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    For anyone that’s read The Diamond Age: I can’t help but be reminded of Carl Hollywood’s description of how that world’s network functions.

    O brave new world!

    • sigler00
    • 9 years ago

    Nice, bravo tech demo. I’m looking forward to learning more about it and how it is received in the world. I for one thinks it will be a hit.

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