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Your Chrome browser might not be using HTTP anymore

by / Monday, 08 August 2011 / Published in Of Interest
I was googling for some Google Chrome documentation today, and discovered a fascinating post by Ilya Grigorik:
He notes that Google’s Chrome browser dropped the “http://” prefix in their location bar not just for aesthetic reasons:

If you are using Chrome, and you are using Google web services today, chances are, you are not running over HTTP! Let that sink in for a minute. More likely, your browser is using SPDY – let’s dig in.


One of the Google experiments is SPDY (pronounced “SPeeDY”), an application-layer protocol for transporting content over the web, designed specifically for minimal latency.  In addition to a specification of the protocol, they have developed a SPDY-enabled Google Chrome browser and open-source web server. Google compared the performance of these applications over HTTP and SPDY, and claims up to 64% reductions in page load times in SPDY.

Turns out, while the original work and tests around SPDY were done in the Chromium project, since then, the official Google Chrome client has shipped with built-in SPDY support, and not surprisingly, Google’s servers are also SPDY enabled. In other words, if you use Chrome, and you’re using Google services, then many of those pages are not arriving to you over HTTP – you are actually running over SPDY! 

The original Chromium SPDY documentation mentions External work (experimental) but that list does not include the biggest experiment of all – Chrome. I would love to know the result of this experiment: How much performance gains does SPDY provide in real life use?

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