BitTorrent Piece Length Selection
BitTorrent .torrent
files contain socalled metainfo that allows BitTorrent
peers to locate, download, and verify the contents of a torrent.
This metainfo includes the piece list, a list of SHA1 hashes of fixedsize pieces of the torrent data. The size of these pieces is chosen by the torrent creator.
Intermodal has a simple algorithm that attempts to pick a reasonable piece length for a torrent given the size of the contents.
For compatibility with the BitTorrent v2 specification, the algorithm chooses piece lengths that are powers of two, and that are at least 16KiB.
The maximum automatically chosen piece length is 16MiB, as piece lengths larger than 16MiB have been reported to cause issues for some clients.
In addition to the above constraints, there are a number of additional factors to consider.
Factors favoring smaller piece length

To avoid uploading bad data, peers only upload data from full pieces, which can be verified by hash. Decreasing the piece size allows peers to more quickly obtain a full piece, which decreases the time before they begin uploading, and receiving data in return.

Decreasing the piece size decreases the amount of data that must be thrown away in case of corruption.
Factors favoring larger piece length

Increasing the piece size decreases the protocol overhead from requesting many pieces.

Increasing the piece size decreases the number of pieces, decreasing the size of the metainfo.

Increasing piece length increases the proportion of disk seeks to disk reads, which can be beneficial for spinning disks.
Intermodalâ€™s Algorithm
In Python, the algorithm used by intermodal is:
MIN = 16 * 1024
MAX = 16 * 1024 * 1024
def piece_length(content_length):
exponent = math.log2(content_length)
length = 1 << int((exponent / 2 + 4))
return min(max(length, MIN), MAX)
Which gives the following piece lengths:
Content > Piece Length x Count = Piece List Size
16 KiB > 16 KiB x 1 = 20 bytes
32 KiB > 16 KiB x 2 = 40 bytes
64 KiB > 16 KiB x 4 = 80 bytes
128 KiB > 16 KiB x 8 = 160 bytes
256 KiB > 16 KiB x 16 = 320 bytes
512 KiB > 16 KiB x 32 = 640 bytes
1 MiB > 16 KiB x 64 = 1.25 KiB
2 MiB > 16 KiB x 128 = 2.5 KiB
4 MiB > 32 KiB x 128 = 2.5 KiB
8 MiB > 32 KiB x 256 = 5 KiB
16 MiB > 64 KiB x 256 = 5 KiB
32 MiB > 64 KiB x 512 = 10 KiB
64 MiB > 128 KiB x 512 = 10 KiB
128 MiB > 128 KiB x 1024 = 20 KiB
256 MiB > 256 KiB x 1024 = 20 KiB
512 MiB > 256 KiB x 2048 = 40 KiB
1 GiB > 512 KiB x 2048 = 40 KiB
2 GiB > 512 KiB x 4096 = 80 KiB
4 GiB > 1 MiB x 4096 = 80 KiB
8 GiB > 1 MiB x 8192 = 160 KiB
16 GiB > 2 MiB x 8192 = 160 KiB
32 GiB > 2 MiB x 16384 = 320 KiB
64 GiB > 4 MiB x 16384 = 320 KiB
128 GiB > 4 MiB x 32768 = 640 KiB
256 GiB > 8 MiB x 32768 = 640 KiB
512 GiB > 8 MiB x 65536 = 1.25 MiB
1 TiB > 16 MiB x 65536 = 1.25 MiB
2 TiB > 16 MiB x 131072 = 2.5 MiB
4 TiB > 16 MiB x 262144 = 5 MiB
8 TiB > 16 MiB x 524288 = 10 MiB
16 TiB > 16 MiB x 1048576 = 20 MiB
32 TiB > 16 MiB x 2097152 = 40 MiB
64 TiB > 16 MiB x 4194304 = 80 MiB
128 TiB > 16 MiB x 8388608 = 160 MiB
256 TiB > 16 MiB x 16777216 = 320 MiB
512 TiB > 16 MiB x 33554432 = 640 MiB
1 PiB > 16 MiB x 67108864 = 1.25 GiB