Google aims to double Web speed

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Google is hoping to make Web pages download up to twice as quickly using SPDY, a new application-layer protocol that it's experimenting with, according to a company blog post.

The Internet giant wants to improve on the current performance of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) by minimizing latency.

Google's lab tests of SPDY reportedly showed an improvement in page-load times of between 27 percent and 60 percent compared to HTTP, and between 39 percent and 55 percent when using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). The company still has much work to do to evaluate the performance of SPDY in real-world conditions, the blog post said.

Google conducted the tests by downloading 25 of the "top 100" web sites ten times each over simulated home network connections, using a prototype Google Chrome browser and a Web server that it has developed.

SPDY uses a number of techniques to speed Web downloads, including allowing many concurrent HTTP requests across a single TCP session, prioritizing those requests, and using compression to reduce the number of packets and overall amount of data sent. Google doesn't want to start from scratch with SPDY. The protocol still uses HTTP headers, but it overrides other parts of that protocol, such as connection management and data transfer formats.

For something like SPDY to work, browsers and Web servers would have to be upgraded; Web pages wouldn't, according to Google. SPDY isn't the only new Internet protocol that might speed Web downloads. But others—such as SCTP (Stream Control Transmission Protocol) and SST (Structured Stream Transport)—have seen little development activity in recent years.

The source code for the prototype Google Chrome browser is available for download. The code for the server will be released as open source in the near future, it said.

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