Morpheus Out To Change P2P Clogs

SAN FRANCISCO — StreamCast Networks claims the latest version of its Morpheus file-sharing software will eliminate one of the biggest problems file-swappers gripe about: bandwidth hogging.

Morpheus 4.5 NEOnet, announced at the Web 2.0 conference here this week, lets users create an ad-hoc file-sharing network. It also helps them search for and share files outside of a network with users of other P2P applications and networks.

The company said the network architecture reduces a user’s search average on a network to three, rather than the 16 or so necessary in most P2P networks.

Ben Wilken, NEOnet software architect, said most file-sharing software will broadcast a search query to as many clients as possible. The wait for a response can suck up too much bandwidth. At the same time, he said, “Your search can only go so far before it gets stopped, so you’re not searching the whole network.”

Instead, Morpheus 4.5 arranges clients on the network into groups and assigns responsibility for indexing certain files to different groups. That way, a query only needs to go to one group, rather than to every client on the network.

Because the indexing is distributed among computers in the group, it doesn’t strain the resources of any one machine, he said. “The more computers there are, the more divided the indexing responsibility is, so the more efficient the network becomes.”

The software integrates with users’ virus scanning software in order to provide protection from downloading the viruses that plague P2P networks.

The other bad rap on P2P software is, of course, its widespread use to illegally swap copyrighted content. StreamCast maintains that, as a software vendor, it should be immune from prosecution for what users do with it. A recent decision by the 9th Circuit Appellate Court, the result of a two-year legal battle affirmed that position.

StreamCast Networks CEO Michael Weiss said consumer file-sharing is the first of many uses for Morpheus 4.5. “It’s the core for any efficient communications distribution,” he said, including e-mail and instant messaging. “We’ll prove how dynamic Morpheus is [with consumer P2P networks], then from there use it to move forward to other applications.”

StreamCast has applied for patents on the latest release.

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