BitRipple moves liquid data using RaptorQ

Profile. Startup BitRipple has a data mover that can deliver large volumes of data in real-time across wireless networks by using RaptorQ erasure coding and a liquid data concept.

It says its technology is used in a variety of applications, including defense, streaming video, automotive, space satellite communications, and more. BitRipple delivers massive volumes of data at high-speed with robust security, and ultra-low latency.  This positions BitRipple as a high-speed data mover, along with Vcinity and Zettar.

BitRipple was co-founded  up in April 2020 by CEO Michael Luby,  VP Systems Pooja Aggarwal and VP Engineering Lorenz Minder. Luby spent 5½ years at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, CA, finishing as a Senior Research Scientist in early 2019. Before that he worked at Qualcomm for almost 10 years, becoming VP Technology. Back in 2009 he founded Digital Fountain and was its CTO until early 1998. It developed broadcast and real-time data transport software and was a predecessor of BitRipple.

RaptorQ is an example of a computer science fountain code or rateless erasure code. Their defining property is that a potentially limitless sequence of encoding symbols can be generated from a given set of source symbols. The original source symbols can ideally be recovered from any subset of the encoding symbols of size equal to or only slightly larger than the number of source symbols, which limits network overhead.

The abstract of a 1998 ACM document, to which Luby contributed, said: “A digital fountain allows any number of heterogeneous clients to acquire bulk data with optimal efficiency at times of their choosing. Moreover, no feedback channels are needed to ensure reliable delivery, even in the face of high loss rates.We develop a protocol that closely approximates a digital fountain using a new class of erasure codes that for large block sizes are orders of magnitude faster than standard erasure codes.”

Digital Fountain pioneered RaptorQ use, selling Linux appliances, and was bought by Qualcomm in 2009, which is how Luby ended up in Qualcomm.

BitRipple describes its technology like this: “The essential idea is that, using RaptorQ, a sender generates and sends liquid packets for each data block to be delivered to a receiver. They are called liquid packets because, like drops of a liquid, they are interchangeable: using RaptorQ, the receiver recovers each block as soon as enough liquid packets arrive at the receiver, independent of which liquid packets arrive.”

RaptorQ erasure code is specified in IETF RFC 6330. Qualcomm provides a RaptorQ Technical Overview, which says: “Raptor is a forward error correction (FEC) technology implemented in software that provides application-layer protection against network packet loss. … The RaptorQ encoder and decoder software libraries allow streaming and file delivery services to recover data lost in transit and completely reconstruct it, without using a backchannel.”  

Specifically: “RaptorQ encodes and decodes a block of source data, called a source block, which is partitioned into equal-size pieces of data, called source symbols. The source block size is configured by the application that incorporates the RaptorQ software library based on the application requirements. The RaptorQ encoder generates repair symbols from the source symbols of a source block, where the repair symbols are the same size as the source symbols and the encoded symbols that can be sent consist of the combination of the source symbols and the repair symbols.”

“Typically, each encoded symbol is sent in an individual packet together with a 32-bit header, called the FEC Payload ID consisting of an 8-bit source block number and a 24-bit encoded symbol identifier (ESI) that allows the receiver to identify the encoded symbol carried in the packet.” 

YouTube BitRipple video.

BitRipple says it uses an intelligent delivery protocol which “automatically adjusts on-the-fly the number of liquid packets to send for each block based on continual feedback from the receiver. The number of liquid packets proactively sent for a block is close to the minimal needed to recover the block when packet loss is low, saving on bandwidth. More liquid packets are proactively sent for a block when packet loss is higher, ensuring that enough liquid packets arrive at the receiver to recover the block without re-transmisson delays.”

A YouTube video shows remote BitRipple-delivered 4K video almost as fast as local playback and much faster than HTTP Live Streaming (HLS). 

There are three BitRipple products:

  • Mono – data package delivery over a 1-way connection with no back channel from receiver to sender.
  • Tunnel – accelerates data movement between pairs of endpoints over any network.
  • Multipath Tunnel -accelerates data movement between pairs of endpoints utilizing multiple network paths.

BitRipple says it enable immersive experiences, such as cloud gaming, remote collaboration, augmented and virtual reality, delivered to geographically-distributed endpoints across wireless networks. It is a quiet, relatively low-profile company, making ripples in the data moving space, and not noisy splashes.