Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why Xbox Video Service Needs Peer Impact

Last week Microsoft launched their digital marketplace for the Xbox and fell victim to the Slashdot effect. On the day of the launch the demand was more then they could handle and as a result users experienced extremely slow downloads or did not receive what they purchased at all.

Since then there have been many articles stating how Microsoft could solve these problems by using P2P technology and I couldn’t agree more. I have seen our technology solve this problem many times when we distribute the America’s Army game. About a year ago the Army released a major upgrade to their game and saw an amazing demand for the game. Users going to the America’s Army site to download the game found that almost every mirror sites was either down or was delivering the file at extremely slow speeds, but not us. With the combination of our P2P network and our seed servers we were able to deliver the file at fast speeds while keeping bandwidth costs low. And by the nature of P2P as demand increased for the game we were able to deliver the file at faster and faster speeds instead of slower and slower speeds like traditional distribution sites were delivering.

There is one article in particular I would like to comment on because it describes exactly what Peer Impact is today, and could be used by any company looking to distribute large files or streams on the Internet. The article was written by Mark Wilson and can be found on the Gizmodo website. It talks about a SIMPLE approach to solving Microsoft problems using BitTorrent, but as many of you know Peer Impact’s technology if very similar to BitTorrent in that a single file is broken into small fragments that are distributed among computers. People then share pieces of the content with one another. We believe that Peer Impact P2P technology is very different in some respects and more efficient then BitTorrent, and would solve this problem much better. Below is a snippet from the article with my comments.

1. Users can have the option for faster downloads through Live's P2P sharing network.
> Peer Impact provides fast downloads for everyone through the use of our P2P network, but was built to allow people to have the option of not using the P2P network. Without the P2P network they could see slower download speeds.

2. By Microsoft heavily controlling super-seeding (distributing different parts of files evenly), a P2P-shared file could hit an efficient early transfer/share
> In addition to our P2P network we have super-seeders that help deliver content. This ensures that a file is delivered at a specified QoS if the P2P network can't supply enough bandwidth.

3. For a portion of your upstream bandwidth (that could be specified by user), gamers are able to download faster (and as a top uploader, you get access to top downloading speeds).
> When a user downloads a file we look are their participation rating(uptime, upstream bandwidth used, …) to determine how many sources to give them. A high rating will mean more sources during a download and more source means faster speeds.

4. Microsoft rewards power users with points per preset upload amount (1gb=50 Live points)
> Peer Impact has a rewards system called Peer Cash. For every upload you provide you earn Peer Cash which can be used to buy music, movies, TV shows, and games from our service. Users can also earn Peer Cash by recommending content to their friends or post links to content on their website or blog.

5. Brian Lam stops getting error messages.
> Error messages suck

6. Unicorns return to Earth.

Once again a agree with Mark that its too bad that companies that need P2P the most are not using the technology.

Here is a link to another article that mentions both Peer Impact and the Gizmodo article.
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