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Google hopes to speed up the web with SPDY and TCP proposals

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Google is hoping to speed up the web with two different proposals. The first is SPDY, the second is a set of improvements proposed for TCP, the fundamental communication protocol on the internet.


Not everything that keeps you waiting on web pages to load comes from a slow connection or poor rendering times on your browser. Some of that time is actually taken up by some fairly fundamental networking and communication protocols that have been in use for quite awhile. Google is hoping to give these tiny delays the boot with two different proposals. The first is SPDY (pronounced "speedy") and it relates to to HTTP. It's essentially made up of a set of small communication efficiencies like header compression and allowing browsers to make multiple requests with a single connection. Google has already built it into Chrome, Mozilla is building it into Firefox 11, and now the Mark Nottingham of the HTTP Working Group is proposing it be included in HTTP 2.0.

Another proposal that is in the more nascent stage is also more fundamental. In a blog post on Monday, Google engineer Yuchung Cheng listed several proposals for speeding up TCP, which stands for "Transmission Control Protocol" and was famously created in 1974 by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. It's served us quite well since then, but Google is suggesting a number of improvements to speed it up, including reducing the number of "round trips" a data packet needs to make, reducing timeouts from three to one second, and implementing TCP Fast Open and Proportional Rate Reduction. All of that combined could theoretically work to reduce latency and — just as importantly — be backwards-compatible with current TCP systems. That all sounds like a beautiful future, but unlike Google's SPDY proposals, it will likely be some time before we have any sort of widespread agreement about whether Google's proposals are the right thing for the internet.