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While I was listening in on an interesting conversation about distributed systems, I heard people talk about how overhead and "gap" were two important characteristics of distributed systems, and how bandwidth is not a good measure for the speed. Can someone explain why this is true?

I guess we can start off with Remote Procedure Calls on a remote filesystem, to begin with. Anything will do.

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Bandwidth is not a measure of speed, it's a measure of capacity.

Generally speaking, latency is a measure of speed.

There are many factors that determine the useful throughput (goodput) of any communications network (protocol overhead, etc.).

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a good similie for bandwidth is adding another lane to a motorway - you get more capacity but the speed stays the same. And of course you hope the motorway doesn't turn into a bumpy single lane track at the end :-) – Tubs Nov 2 '11 at 10:08

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