Why is the Internet so damn slow. That’s probably a phrase that every Internet user in the world has said more than once. Even users with fast broadband connections experience slow downs and slow loading websites every now and then. The time to display a website in the user’s web browser does not only depend on the download speed of the Internet connection.
Other factors, include the website that is accessed, the web server the website is hosted on, the location of the server in the world, and the web browser and system of the user play a role.
Google two days ago made an announcement over at the Chromium Blog where it showcased part of the company’s vision to make the web faster. Google’s answer: SPDY, “an application-layer protocol for transporting content over the web”.
SPDY is “designed specifically for minimizing latency through features such as multiplexed streams, request prioritization and HTTP header compression”. Initial tests in a “lab-environment” have shown speed increases of up to 55% over standard connections while downloading pages from the top 25 websites.
The SPDY project defines and implements an application-layer protocol for the web which greatly reduces latency. The high-level goals for SPDY are:
- To target a 50% reduction in page load time. Our preliminary results have come close to this target (see below).
- To minimize deployment complexity. SPDY uses TCP as the underlying transport layer, so requires no changes to existing networking infrastructure.
- To avoid the need for any changes to content by website authors. The only changes required to support SPDY are in the client user agent and web server applications.
- To bring together like-minded parties interested in exploring protocols as a way of solving the latency problem. We hope to develop this new protocol in partnership with the open-source community and industry specialists.
A whitepaper goes into further detail. Users who are interested in the project should start there and follow the discussion over at the Chromium blog.
Update: SPDY has been the basis for HTTP/2 which is a standard that most web browsers will implement or have at least partially implemented already at this point in time.