All About Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Networks
Often referred to simply as peer-to-peer, or abbreviated P2P, peer-to-peer architecture is a type of network in which each workstation has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. This differs from client/server architectures where some computers are dedicated to serving the others. Peer-to-peer networks are generally simpler but they usually do not offer the same performance under heavy loads. The P2P network itself relies on computing power at the ends of a connection rather than from within the network itself.
P2P is often mistakenly used as as a term to describe one user linking with another user to transfer information and files through the use of a common P2P client to download MP3s, videos, images, games and other software. This, however, is only one type of P2P networking. Generally, P2P networks are used for sharing files, but a P2P network can also mean Grid Computing or Instant messaging.
Types of P2P Networks
Peer-to-peer networks come in three flavors. The category classification is based on the network and application.
Also referred to as distributed computing, it combines the idle or unused CPU processing power and/or free disk space of many computers in the network. Collaborative computing is most popular with science and biotech organizations where intense computer processing is required. Examples of distributed computing can be found at GRID.ORG where United Devices is hosting virtual screening for cancer research on the Grid MP platform. This project has evolved into the largest computational chemistry project in history. United Devices has harnessed the power of more than 2,000,000 PCs around the world to generate more than 100 teraflops of power. Most distributed computing networks are created by users volunteering their unused computing resources to contribute to public interest research projects.