Swarmcast this week launched Autobahn, an accelerator for iTunes which can speed download times by up to 90%, and is up to 30 times faster in high latency areas such as Australia. Swarmcast works with content providers like MLB to enhance streaming for high-bandwidth content.
The key to the technology is its use of a client-side plugin to make the download process smarter. Autobahn doesn’t utilize end-user upstream capacity via P2P file sharing the way networks like Bittorrent do (though it can and does for MLB Mosaic).
Instead Swarmcast does what it calls multi-source streaming – breaking up large files into smaller pieces and downloading multiple random packets simultaneously like a torrent network, but pulling the packets from Swarmcast and CDN servers rather than individual end-users. At the same time it takes the information it gets back from all users running Autobahn and uses Forward Error Correction to decrease packet loss and make data transfer more efficient.
The result is a product that has many of the advantages of P2P with few of the disadvantages – enabling higher bitrate streaming of live and on-demand content and a really fast download.