A SPDY session in Chrome

Google-developed SPDY protocol (pronounced “SPeeDY”), an optimized hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), was unveiled in late 2009 as part of the “Let’s make the web faster” initiative. In Layman’s terms, instead of opening several dumb connections SPDY uses a single connection between the server and the user’s browser. It intelligently delivers the files that make up web pages while allowing web developers to prioritize more important pieces like the user interface code and graphics over article images (more technicalities here).

Currently, Chrome is the only browser with built-in support for SPDY and today arrives the first commercial implementation of the protocol via Strangeloop’s Site Optimizer, a software tool that analyzes websites for bottlenecks. According to Technology Review, the protocol has sped up websites by ten to twenty percent:

At first, this will only make a difference for people who visit websites using Google’s Chrome browser (the only one that supports SDPY), but Strangeloop expects that it could end up having a big impact on mobile devices as well, since Google is likely to build SPDY into browsers designed for Android.

Transactional web sites like Amazon could benefit greatly from more speed as it translates into higher sales. Other vendors have not updated their browsers with SPDY support, giving Chrome competitive edge, but also derailing the search giant’s plans to make SPDY an industry standard. Google cites lab tests pitting performance of web apps over HTTP and SPDY, claiming a 64 percent reductions in page load times in SPDY. Another notable benchmark after the break…

The search firm added SPDY support to Chrome in mid-January of 2011. They have been using SPDY in own sites, which is part of the reason some people notice greater responsiveness and shorter loading times when accessing Google sites in the Chrome browser. Before SPDY takes off in any meaningful way, however, the industry will need to endorse the protocol. This doesn’t just mean that Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, Opera Software and other browser vendors must be talked into supporting SPDY, but the makers of servers which power the web because SPDY entails support on both ends, on the server front and the user’s browser of choice.

SPDY benchmark results by Matthew Loyd (click for larger)

About the Author