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Scalability of Gnutella

Scalability is jargon for the ability to support large numbers of nodes. Arguments over whether completely decentralized designs such as Gnutella could support large numbers of nodes have been present since the first day of its release. Justin Frankel, Gnutella's inventor, stated that 250-300 nodes was the likely maximum. The Gnutella protocol tends to generate more network traffic than most protocols. One reason is that a search request must be sent to every node eligible to fulfill it. This is considered by some to make such excessive demands on available bandwidth that the network must eventually collapse, and Gnutella become unusable, at a large size. Possible counterarguments are that the Gnutella network has already reached a fairly large size without collapsing; that the limited lifespan of a Gnutella message prevents out-of-control resource usage; and that the topography of Gnutella is in fact isomorphic with the topography of Napster.

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