Researchers at one of the world’s oldest universities, Cambridge, have come up with a prototype for a possible future internet infrastructure that does away with the need for servers. This could help solve the network capacity problems that arise out of the profusion of bulky online content such as video.
The way the internet currently works, content is mostly delivered to client devices such as PCs and smartphones from powerful computers called servers, which are generally housed in data centers. This represents a centralization of computing power and storage that some argue is becoming outdated, what with the beefy processors and (sometimes) capacious storage devices we carry around in our pockets these days.
The Cambridge University prototype would represent a dramatic revamp of that way of doing things. Part of a wider EU-funded project called Pursuit, the putative protocol operates more like the popular filesharing mechanism BitTorrent, in that users share information directly with one another, rather than through a server. Simplistically put, Person B might receive content from Person A’s device, then become a source for that data so Person C could then download it, and so on.
Fragments of the same data might be replicated all over the place, in order to make re-assembly as quick and efficient as possible. So, for example, if you want to watch a TV show online, you would get its fragments from people nearby who have already downloaded and watched it, rather than from the provider’s server or content delivery network.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc