Since it was first released by Bram Cohen back in 2001, very few changes have been made to the way BitTorrent works. It was a revolutionary invention and to date it is by far the most effective way to transfer large files online. However, BitTorrent does have its limitations.
On the one hand users sometimes complain about slow download speeds, but most of all, Internet providers are not always happy with the heavy load BitTorrent transfers put on their networks.
The Swedish based company Peerialism hopes to tackle these problems and make BitTorrent future proof. Aside from their issues with GGF, they are currently working on the release of a new Open Source BitTorrent tracker based on the OpenTracker software currently in use at most of the larger public BitTorrent trackers.
Andreas Dahlström, the CTO and founder of the company explained to TorrentFreak that the key to solving BitTorrent’s main problems is to make the tracker location aware, so that peers first try to share files with other peers that are closer to them.
“In standard BitTorrent the tracker chooses a totally random number of peers for you. There are some good reasons for this since random actually gives some nice and robust network properties but in many cases this will force you to download for peers far away from you,” Dahlström said.
“This has two effects: slower download speed and unnecessary network traffic for the ISPs. And since BitTorrent traffic causes so much problems for ISPs many use traffic shaping, causing even slower download speeds,” he explained.
The solution to this problem according to Dahlström is to make the tracker select peers more intelligently, based on their geographical location. The initial tests of this new methodology are very promising, as they result in faster download speeds for BitTorrent users, and less traffic going outside the ISPs network.
“We have built p2p algorithms which actually map the entire Internet. We can use this to let a BitTorrent Tracker assign you to the peers closest to you. The effect for the downloader is 30-150% faster downloads and 20-50% less traffic for the ISPs,” Dahlström told TorrentFreak.
Peerialism localizes local peers
This sounds like a classic win-win situation. If it’s implemented by most of the leading BitTorrent trackers, ISPs will have less trouble handling BitTorrent traffic and thus less incentive to slow it down. On the other hand, BitTorrent users will see a boost in their download speeds.
There is a minor drawback to the plan though. The new trackers will use more CPU and memory, which means that more power is required than with the current setup. This means that the people who run the trackers will have to invest in new hardware.
“We work hard to together with Ergeist [the creator of the original OpenTracker software] to minimize the extra load,” Dahlström said. “We do believe the extra resources are well spent compared to the improved download speeds and less ISP traffic.”
If Peerialism can deliver what they are promising, their new tracker will be one of the most significant advancements to BitTorrent in years. Although they are not the first to come up with the idea of location based peer allocation, some might remember P4P, the solution they offer is superior since it requires no changes to the existing BitTorrent clients.
In addition, Peerialism is already working together with the developer behind the most widely used BitTorrent tracker software currently in use by The Pirate Bay, OpenBitTorrent and PublicBitTorrent trackers. Thus, they are as close to the fire as they can be.
The Open Source tracker, currently codenamed OpenTracker 2.0, is set to be released in September. If some of the larger trackers decide to use it we might see a huge drop in Global Internet traffic instantly, along with faster download speeds for most BitTorrent users.