What is .......... Peer-to-Peer?

What is it?

This is a special kind of network type ('Network topology' is the fancy description). It describes computers that are networked to each other without a central server being in-between.

Why was it developed?

Peer-to-Peer networks are very popular with people who want to share files directly with one another. The files do not have to be stored on a central server.

Software has been developed that can even put together a file from bits of the file stored across several 'peers' on the network. For example Bit Torrent can do this. The advantage is that no single computer needs to be over-loaded when a very popular / very large file is requested.

Why is it important?

It is an important development because it will affect the way the Internet is used in the future.

Many companies want to provide 'video on demand' services but the problem has been how to provide the vast bandwidth needed when thousands of people are asking for the same video file e.g. the latest episode of 'Lost' or '24'

Peer-to-Peer is an ideal solution to the problem because hundreds of computers can hold parts of the video and so share the load.

Some companies are calling the peer-to-peer connections they are building as 'The Grid' which is a trendier name for the same thing.


What about the future?

In the near future, high definition television programs may be delivered through the internet and so peer-to-peer may be used.




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