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We now have CPUs and GPUs, and soon we will have BPUs

IAdea Corporation, a Taiwan-based licensee of BitTorrent technology, and Star Semiconductor Corporation, an affiliate of the semiconductor giant UMC Group, jointly announced the availability of STR9810/20 -- the world's first BitTorrent-optimized microprocessor chip.

Most of the BitTorrent downloads today are done by software that runs on the PC. The new microprocessor will enable consumer electronics hardware makers to create devices that directly download and play BitTorrent content.

"I remember in the old days people first watched DVDs on the PC, like how BitTorrent is used on the PC today," says Steven Huang, Chairman and CEO of Star Semiconductor Corporation, the co-developer of the new chip. "Very soon our chip will enable millions of consumer devices to run BitTorrent and help consumers do what they do today on the PC using just a simple remote control."

The BitTorrent-optimized STR9810/20 microprocessors will be available in Q1, 2007. Two versions of the chip are available with various hardware-based acceleration levels. Both chips feature an ARM922-based core, network interface and dual USB 2.0 high-speed ports, allowing fast integration with existing embedded consumer products such as wireless routers, NAS, smart HDD enclosures, DVD players, set-top boxes and DLNA digital media appliances. The chips will be available to systems designers starting at $8.75 in quantities of 1,000.

"BitTorrent is going to fundamentally advance the Web to its next stage. New digital appliances utilizing our chip work cooperatively to deliver large media files. This new service architecture is infinitely scalable, delivers faster as more users join, and can be built at a fraction of the cost of a traditional server farm," says John C. Wang, CEO of IAdea Corporation, the developer of the technology inside the new chip. "We see this trend emerging as 'Web 3.0' where each consumer becomes part of a universal content storage and delivery system. Our new chip plays part in the new paradigm by making BitTorrent available efficiently and economically. You should not be surprised if you find your next car or cellphone enabled with our technology."

BitTorrent has signed content license agreements with over 20 leading entertainment companies, including 20th Century Fox, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, to deliver large media files to millions of viewers simultaneously without investing heavily in server hardware and bandwidth. BitTorrent also found its way into consumer electronic-level digital boxes from ASUS, Planex and QNAP, that do not require PC intervention to download files.

"BitTorrent continues to expand its roster of partners along the digital content value chain -- from content destination sites to the semiconductors that power the most popular consumer electronic devices," said Ashwin Navin, President and Co-Founder of BitTorrent. "The growing BitTorrent ecosystem reflects our vision for BitTorrent embedded everywhere people want an improved entertainment experience."

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What in the world does THIS mean?
By vdig on 1/11/2007 2:22:09 PM , Rating: 2
I am now officially stunned. Entertainment companies support this protocol? BitTorrent becomes mainstream? The BitTorrent I know of is a distribution protocol, usually bundled with an interface such as uTorrent, software that takes a pointer and points to a file tracker, which tracks some file that is being shared by leechers who do not have the file in entirety and seeders that do have a complete file(s). Popular protocol used to distribute anything and everything, so long as the seeds are there. Sorry for the run on.

What in the world do they mean by seeing this as "Web 3.0"? If they are talking file sharing without taxing regular system resources, then all the power to them, but... there is a point in this that would change, something, drastically. I just can't put my finger on it.

A little help here?

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By Aikouka on 1/11/2007 2:42:39 PM , Rating: 2
From what I can surmise, these chips will be put in set-top devices to allow downloading files over the Internet to play on the TV. Allow me to provide an example:

Imagine your TiVo with one of those... we'll call it TiVo D (for Download) just for kicks. TiVo D has all the features of normal TiVo, yet it also lets you download full movies over its vast network (i.e. Torrent network) to view on your TV. You also will serve as an assistant in uploading content to other viewers, so you save the company (in this case, probably TiVo) money.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By mark2ft on 1/11/2007 2:53:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah--that would be the only sensible use of this device, I guess. But even then--this type of application is still limited.

Well, maybe instead of set-top boxes, if these chips were integrated into all the TV's sold out there, then yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By Torched on 1/11/2007 5:13:45 PM , Rating: 2
Here's a scenario for you:

A next generation console such as the Xbox4000 contains this chip. Say the chip allows you to allocate a certain amount of your upload and download to sharing live titles to other users. If you share 1Kb of your upload it doesn't affect your connection speed, but in theory millions of users will be connected and uploading.

Heres another device:

A small embedded touch screen system connected through wifi that is undercabinet mounted in millions of kitchens all across the world. Simple GUI just to create and share cooking recipes with other users. All it needs is this chip and a SoC with wifi and vga.

Just get a little creative. There are more sensible uses.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By TomZ on 1/11/2007 7:18:57 PM , Rating: 2
Why is a separate chip needed to do all this - why can't it be performed by the main processor?

I think the only ones being creative here are the marketing folks.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By Ringold on 1/11/2007 7:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
All I can think of is if the chip does the same job with less power consumption, maybe it's worth the battery life for a mobile device of what ever kind...

But anything connected to power..

I've had bittorrent running for three days, 2.9gb down, 1.5gb up, about 25 different torrents, and task manager says its ate 3:59 cpu time. I've stared at it for a couple minutes, and saw it register 1% usage for about two seconds. I dont see saving 1% cpu usage worth extra silicon.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By defter on 1/12/2007 6:01:06 AM , Rating: 3
And how much power was consumed by your PC during these three days?

This kind of CPU is aimed for small, separate devices that can download stuff directly. This kind of devices already exist, the point is that you don't to keep your noisy PC that consumes >100W at idle running whole night. Instead you use a small device with an external HDD to download stuff using Bittorrent.

By JeffDM on 1/12/2007 1:16:36 PM , Rating: 2
Most modern chips have good power management protocols, such as turning down the clock, reducing the voltage for lower clock speeds and turn off unused sections of the chip.

My computers aren't noisy either. That is another problem that is easily fixable without having to resort to buying more electronic devices.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By oTAL on 1/12/2007 2:47:36 PM , Rating: 3
1. Buy an Asus router with a USB port.
2. Install 3rd party BT firmware.
3. Connect and external HDD.
4. Use computer to decide what to download.
5. Turn off computer and let the router do the work...

P.S. PLEASE turn off the javascript that focus the post title. I hate that I'm writting and then half my sentence appears at the title!

By codeThug on 1/16/2007 6:39:27 PM , Rating: 2
I totally agree. This is marketing hype.

Any general purpose processor should be able to manage and merge i/o streams.

By KashGarinn on 1/17/2007 4:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
Ted stevens got it right! Except for series of tubes, he meant that the internet is a series of torrents.


By Googer on 1/13/2007 1:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
I think it would be great if they put one of these chips in consumer NAS devices. Then we could have dedicated Bittorrent devises attahed to our network that don't hog up cpu cycles or eat at disk storage/access time.

By mark2ft on 1/11/2007 2:46:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I don't get it either. I think the makers of this bittorrent chip were trying to analogize by saying, "In the past, there were DVD drives on the PC, and later there were portable DVD players that were independent in themselves." OK, that makes some sense I guess. What I don't understand is--this is targeted at consumers. Why would consumers want to have portable/PC-independent bittorrent players? It's not like you buy a bittorrent "disc" and play it right away--you still need to download the entire file first in random parts (I mean, it's not the same as streaming digital audio/video content).

And with the trend of laptop sales outpacing desktop sales (and even the advent of UMPCs and things like that), why would you need a separate "bittorrent-only" device? Isn't technology all about integration?

As for the bigger companies, this makes sense--use a lot of bittorrent-machines to distribute content instead of building a server and installing an OS in there and everything just for bittorrent. But for consumer devices--I don't know why you'd benefit from it.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By vdig on 1/11/2007 3:17:04 PM , Rating: 2
Bandwidth. Yes, I already know of many problems with BitTorrent regarding that. Many ISPs restrict, if not altogether slow it to oblivion, all torrent file transfers. My provider does it (Rogers). The way around this, generally, is to encrypt the torrent headers. This does not work for everyone, however.

I have heard horror stories about torrent users suddenly hitting a bandwidth cap and getting threatened by their ISPs to "cease and desist", OR ELSE. Obviously the threat is commonly a disconnect from all service, but sometimes it is more than that.

If BitTorrent becomes a common protocol, and all machines on the web becomes some kind of Web 3.0, then what in the world will that turn my bill into? It is bad enough when we are threatened by ISPs for constant uploading. What happens when everyone does it? Something big is missing from the picture to even make it remotely into something workable. I feel like that certain thing will be how corporations take advantage of the whole thing.

ISPs now use the bandwidth I pay for? They better not. Not without giving me coaxial speed rates.

I still don't know what that is, or if what I'm truly trying to pinpoint is not yet in my sights. Still, this is concerning.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By phusg on 1/11/2007 4:26:49 PM , Rating: 2
There is a company who is building a commercial torrent download service based on the open source azureus, see

Please don't make a snap decision and start avoiding azureus, it is and will remain open source. uTorrent is the one to watch out for, it is closed source and has recently been bought outright by a commercial company.

RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By Ringold on 1/11/07, Rating: 0
RE: What in the world does THIS mean?
By Seer on 1/11/2007 8:17:26 PM , Rating: 2
Right, like pirating movies and music isn't socialist already. *rolls eyes*

By therealnickdanger on 1/11/2007 2:20:07 PM , Rating: 5
I'm assuming this would not work with just any Torrent stream? Only pay-torrents?

This part scares me:
"We see this trend emerging as 'Web 3.0' where each consumer becomes part of a universal content storage and delivery system.

So basically the consumer pays for all bandwidth and storage of content on top of paying for the product... and how much cheaper will this make the media? Oh, what? It won't be cheaper, you'll just keep the profit to yourself? OK, sounds like a deal.

No, I think I'll stick with BitComet, thanks. Only if the prices on content was super low and I could keep a copy would I pay for a torrent.

By rtrski on 1/11/2007 2:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you can also look at it the other way as sharing in content creation, perhaps. Consider the model behind "Spore" where individual player creature, building, etc. creations are asynchronously uploaded to a central server and other player's creations "seed" your single-player game as well. You're harnessing the entire gaming community to enrich the experience, so you get "more" for your money than just what the developers put in and you paid for out of the box.

But I'm with you...doesn't sound like they intend something like that here...we already pay enough for bandwidth if we exceed certain upload limits, and without significant changes to the way the network providers do business, this could end up hurting you more the more 'enthusiastic' you are about a given subject (hence the more local content you have personally mirrored)....

By therealnickdanger on 1/11/2007 2:45:15 PM , Rating: 2
No doubt, the Spore example is good, but with that you're looking at a truly interactive experience, just like any other multiplayer game, really. What this appears to be is just the media industry leeching off consumers. If the people are willing, so be it, but I just don't like it.

Going back to your Spore example, something that would make this technology really shine would be a YouTube-style site/service... but the flipside is that these chips are probably little DRM spies that will tell the RIAA/MPAA exactly where/who you are so they can sue you directly...

By vdig on 1/11/2007 3:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah. Just as each machine has their own MAC, so too there will be some kind of ID for them to track who shares what. Invasion of privacy is inevitable here. I will stick to uTorrent, thanks.

I still don't think that is THE thing to look out for. Something about this really creeps me out, and I can't quite get what it is. I hope it is just me being overly cautious/worried about how big business uses the tech.

By rtrski on 1/12/2007 10:26:56 AM , Rating: 2
I see your point. Even something as simple as storage, in a "perfect world", could be considered better if distributed to everyone. Benefits are faster access, less likelihood of it being sequestered or forbidden (assuming uniform tech access to the masses). Hard for a government (or corporation, legal group, whatever) to clamp down on information that's sort of randomly disseminated and replicated everywhere in a Torrent-esque sense. I find myself thinking about the social behavior modification that occurred as a result of ubiquitous constant surveillance in David Brim's SF novel "Earth".

But the downside of it - at least until you see processors and storage embedded almost everywhere in a self-managing network where there is just too much to ever track - is that right now whoever makes the nodes (the chips) has his or her finger on where they are and, as you note, can potentially identify or spy on what passes thru them. It's the same argument as the original Intel on-chip serial number identification, writ larger. (Vernor Vinge, "A Deepness in the Sky", with those little 'actuators' that Trim Pham had all sorts of backdoors buried in....)

Amazing how much SF predicts some of these issues....

By Hydrofirex on 1/11/2007 4:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
Purchase more hardware and software to support all the content your buying. Then purchase newer software, newer hardware, and more storage for the newer higher-definition content that you need to buy to replace the older slower system and content.

Oh, and by the way, go ahead and let us use YOUR bandwidth which you pay for so we can push down our costs and make more money!

Yeah, and remember, piracy is bad!


Net Neutrality Issue?
By MarioC on 1/11/2007 3:55:12 PM , Rating: 3
Is it just me or is anyone else out there thinking that the ISP companies will use this in the Net Neutrality debate. Previously they were complaining that companies used their traffic to make money. It was true, but not a valid point.

Bittorrent, on the other hand, literally makes the ISP take the cost of selling their product. Now companies are really taking advantage of the pipes that ISPs have. People would start using exponential amounts of their bandwidth from ISPs if something like a Bittorrent set-top box surfaced and was widely used.

I like freedom of the internet, but companies that used to pay for their own bandwidth are saving money by exploiting the "unlimited" bandwidth given to comsumers. We are now part of the supply chain in this case and ISPs may want to start charging us business rates if they see Bittorrent usage rise dramatically. Greedy companies vs. Greedy companies often means the consumers lose, at least in my experience.

RE: Net Neutrality Issue?
By wien on 1/12/2007 11:38:48 AM , Rating: 2
The ISPs might try to sell it that way, but in the end the issue of Net Neutrality is about people being able to use the bandwidth they pay their ISP for however they damn please. If people wish to use their bandwidth helping content creators distribute their content, that's their business. If the ISPs can't make money because people use the bandwidth they paid them for, that's their problem for not charging enough in the first place.

RE: Net Neutrality Issue?
By JeffDM on 1/12/2007 1:38:33 PM , Rating: 1
I think the problem is that many ISPs are really selling an always-on connection, and their marketing often doesn't make that clear. It's the few that interpret that as allowing an always-maxed connection that cause the problems. It's the people that tend to routinely max their connections that should be paying more for the service.

RE: Net Neutrality Issue?
By wien on 1/12/2007 2:08:33 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe they should switch to charging per GB downloaded then? I mean, if they can't make money on always-on connections, because people don't use them "as intended", they need to look at alternative services, or just charge more for the one they're selling. Trying to charge the other end of the cable (The content providers, which also pay for their bandwidth BTW.), is just wrong, and would in effect be charging twice for the same service.

As people change their online usage pattern, the ISPs need to adapt their business model. Sitting around crying about how content providers use their "tubes" without paying them, is just confusing the real issue.

RE: Net Neutrality Issue?
By Axbattler on 1/13/2007 3:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
ISPs in the UK have already 'adapted'. Most of the home user tariffs are subject to 'fair use' which is enforced in various manners: the most common way is to have a monthly cap (e.g. 50GB) with variations as to what happens if you go above. Some will throttle down your connection. I am not sure if some actually charge per GB exceeded these days. Some do not count off-peak transfers. Basically, most ISPs have something in place to prevent someone from maxing their connections (esp. those that are 2Mbit and up) 24/7.

By JTKTR on 1/11/2007 2:12:53 PM , Rating: 2
i dont wanna sound like an idiot or anything...but how will this really help me get stuff done on my computer?

RE: Wait...
By rtrski on 1/11/2007 2:21:04 PM , Rating: 5
It won't. It'll allow your computer to become one more node in the borg cluster and allow everyone else to store some small part of all their inane little YouTube, anime, music library, and TV download library on your system.

On the other hand, if you want something, a distributed network storage with lots of redundancy might mean you can get it faster, so maybe it could help you 'work' a bit faster that way. Although I read the release as being more related to letting NON-computer hardware do Torrent-like distributed storage access...

Reminds me of the old Steven Wright comedy quote - something like "I have an extensive seashell collection...I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world...maybe you've seen it?"

BT inside
By Lazarus Dark on 1/11/2007 3:31:45 PM , Rating: 4
My next comp better have a 'BT inside' sticker. Cause y'know, I want to make sure it can 'handle' bittorrent, cause, y'know, its so process intensive.


Seriously, though, bt ain't that complicated. Other devices mentioned like QNAP already do this without a bt chip. This seems unnecessary as any device capable of playing the file could probably download it too with a little extra programming - there's no need for a dedicated chip.

RE: BT inside
By Hare on 1/11/2007 3:45:49 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they are planning on putting this inside something else than your computer... A set top box or an external HD like Asus and others have already done.

Come on. Think about the big picture. Todays multicast support is bad and bittorrent is getting more and more support and now that big companies are starting to embrace bittorrent you can bet that there will soon be plenty of legitimite material available. Payperview TV shows etc distributed via bittorrent box with hdmi-out or something similar. I believe this chip is strictly going inside stand-alone boxes.

It's a good idea
By msva124 on 1/11/2007 6:01:57 PM , Rating: 2
Do away with the CPU, have a processor for each individual program that runs on your computer.

RE: It's a good idea
By msva124 on 1/11/2007 6:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
Never mind. I was trying to be ironic, then realized that dual-core/multi-core does actually help speed things up a bit for multitasking.

RE: It's a good idea
By TomZ on 1/11/2007 7:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
No, I think you're right - I wondered myself, what is the benefit of having a "bittorrent accelerator" on-chip? Seems kind of dumb to me. I can't understand why a normal general-purpose processor wouldn't be able to do the job just fine.

By paydirt on 1/15/2007 9:12:26 AM , Rating: 2
So, all these companies have signed up with BitTorrent. It makes sense. Consumers buy all the machines and create a virtual server farm, and the content providers don't have to even create servers to continually serve content to the consumer. Companies would not need to pay Apple/iTunes, because consumers would get it directly from the consumer server farm (after paying for rights) which the consumers would be paying to provide.

WAKE UP PEOPLE! No way am I putting one of these chips in my house!

By Axbattler on 1/15/2007 2:55:28 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see myself buying one of those chip. But it seems like the type of tech that may get integrated into enthusiast motherboards in the beginning, before filtering down.

It's too early to assume that this has no benefit to consumers. If companies choose to pass some of their savings back to the consumers, then I am game.

[Urgh, the 'oops' messages is getting to me]

By TheDoc9 on 1/11/2007 4:37:52 PM , Rating: 3
I think they've embraced it. Since they can't stop it the're now in the 'let's try and completely control it' phase. Make no mistake, billionaires are made by people who have this kind of foresight.

Then the writers of history will say how out of control file sharing was and how bad it is and the 'criminals' who did it. Or how unstable, slow and expensive file sharing was until these 'brilliant entrepreneurs' saved us and become filthy rich in the process.

In any case the riaa is probably on it's way out. No organization who sues it's customers ever survived. I believe this is why no other companies or organizations have followed in the riaa's footsteps. Instead, things like this chip where they control the content, that's their answer.

Maybe I'm missing the point
By aethyrmaster on 1/11/2007 4:43:21 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't this exactly what portable devices DONT need? One more CPU-type chip to draw power, and shorten battery life? If these things do become widespread, how long until an "Ultra-Low Voltage" version of the chip comes out?

Secondly on my mind is this: I have a portable media player, with one of these BT chips in it. All of the music I have is original work by the band comprised of my friends and I. Someone else sees the music, and wants it. What if I don't want to share? If I have a copyright, does that violate my rights if they download it from me? If I'm the only person with the file, is my device's battery going to be drained and all of the available wi-fi bandwidth consumed as I try to seed a file to the rest of the planet?

By typo101 on 1/11/2007 6:16:22 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with all the uneasy-ness regarding BitTorrent being used in a commercial media sharing sort of thing.

However, I do look forward to all future NAS devices having BT features that are cheap and fast. Even though some do already.

Hay guys
By saratoga on 1/11/2007 8:08:34 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone here actually read this press release? Anyone?

" Two versions of the chip are available with various hardware-based acceleration levels. Both chips feature an ARM922-based core, network interface and dual USB 2.0 high-speed ports"

Its not BT optimized. Its not a BT accelerator. Its a standard pair of ARM9 CPUs purchases from ARM Ltd (like used in the iPod Nano and many cell phones) with an ethernet controller. This is no different then a desktop CPU, except its low power, slower and cheaper to make.

Basically what they've done is taken a standard part, and put it in a package thats slightly cheaper then the CPU packages already used for things like NAS, routers, etc. Unless you're designing a BT appliance, this will have no impact on you, aside maybe to make a BT appliance you buy 30 cents cheaper.

A move from Business to Home
By Senju on 1/11/2007 11:46:48 PM , Rating: 2
We use bit torrent on ePolicy, WSUS, Unicenter, etc. and others to update software on clients PC all around the country by just a few servers. The cool thing is all this is being done (example: upgrading to office2003, etc.) in the background. When the user is not using bandwidth, the Big torrent kicks in. This could a cool thing to put a chip into TVs, and almost any electronic device where updates are needed. Just think. any HW you purpurse with Bit Torrent chip inside can now update itself without any user interaction. You will always have the latest drivers. TV will always have your purchased movies downloaded and ready when you get home from work or whatever. You can even turn off your device but Bit Torrent will still can be independent with power and download (or upload) using very low power. I can see a better world! :D

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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