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Google Still Making the Web QUIC’er

If your website takes more than a second to load, your bounce rate, engagement and overall traffic suffers. By not doing everything you can to break the 1000ms-to-glass barrier, you are shooting yourself in the foot. The good news is that you are very likely not, by a longshot, doing everything you can to speed it up. And I want to visit faster sites myself (don’t you?), part of the reason I keep writing about this topic.

Google’s been doing a remarkable job creating protocols, image and video formats that are much more efficient, and superior in other ways as well, than what we’ve all been using both on the client side, the servers and in between; and they’ve been handing it out to anyone who wants it. This includes SPDY, WebP, PageSpeed, improved TCP and SSL implementations and prolific contributions to HTML5. Speed, security and simplicity – the three aren’t mutually exclusive as Google keeps illustrating.

It’s time to add one more to the list: QUIC.

The Quick UDP Internet Connections network protocol, is in some ways like SPDY, perhaps the most critical point being that it uses UDP, though if you want a technical rundown, read this. But to offer you some of the bullet points, as it uses UDP instead of TCP, subtracting TCP’s round trip packet delays (RTT) while preserving data integrity with packet pacing and packet error correction, all through a one-stream multiplexed TLS pipe. Some features of SPDY, except with the lower latency UDP offers with the disadvantages of UDP well-mitigated and with encryption mandated.

While this is still evolving rapidly and probably hard to find a site that’s using it, QUIC is already available in Chrome’s Canary channel, here’s your link if you’re a server fella and if you’re an academic or just an enthusiast here’s the QUIC Geek FAQ. If you want to stay tuned, now that we’ve lost Google Reader, I suggest plugging yourself into Ilya Grigorik’s Google+ for things related to making the web faster. Hopefully soon he’ll toss out a .deb binary link as all that raw code makes me uneasy, you know?

Doug Simmons