The new SPDY internet protocol promises to speed up the loading of web pages by replacing the aging 20-year-old HTTP protocol. Moreover the support is already in popular web browsers.
One of the goals of internet giant Google is to speed up the web by tackling some of the ancient standards the Internet is based on. One such initiative is Google’s SPDY protocol which is already built-in to Google Chrome and Firefox.
In a blog post on Google’s developer blog, Google’s mobile web performance team described an experiment designed to work out how much SPDY could benefit mobile browsing performance.
"We wondered what the performance of SPDY would be compared to HTTP for popular web sites, using a Samsung Galaxy Nexus," wrote Google’s Welsh, Greenstein and Piatek.
The team used the recently released (Android 4.0 only) Chrome browser for Android to load 77 pages from 31 different popular domains. While the team said more work needed to be done to optimise SPDY for 3G and 4G networks, the experiment showed that web page loads were improved by 23 per cent.
How SPDY works requires a little explanation. In essence, the old HTTP protocol exchanges sets of instructions in plain text and for each item to download, such as an image, a separate connection is made. This is problematic because making each connection has a certain latency overhead.
SPDY multiplexes all these connections into a single connection and compresses the entire lot. Such is the advantage of the approach that support is growing in the industry with the expectation that SPDY will become a widespread standard.
It’s also not a replacement for HTTP, as such, but rather is an intermediary protocol that’s transmitted over the internet – being packed and unpacked into HTTP to maintain compatibility of web servers when required.
There’s still yet to be much in the way of web sites that support SPDY, although Google and Twitter are among those that do. Support is being integrated into popular web servers such as Apache and Nginx so it’s expected that many more will come on line soon.
Earlier this week Internet hosting giant Akamai released the firm’s latest "State of the Internet" report which showed that world speeds had actually dropped 14 per cent in the last quarter of 2011. On that basis, we seem to need SPDY if we don’t want the web to get even slower.
Google’s full report on the experiment is here.