With SPDY, Google aimed to strengthen the capabilities of the HTTP protocol and reduce the loading time of web pages thanks in particular to header compression and multiplexing to combine several requests on the same connection. Ultimately, SPDY did not become a standard (and was dropped), but its principles were the basis for HTTP / 2.
Building on the experience gained with SPDY, Google is tackling a lower layer with QUIC. Meaning Quick UDP Internet Connections, QUIC is an experimental network protocol posing as an alternative to TCP and exploiting UDP.
User Datagram Protocol is a basic Internet protocol in the transport layer of TCP / IP and oriented connectionless unlike Transmission Control Protocol. QUIC supports multiplexed connections through TLS (Transport Layer Security; successor to SSL for securing exchanges on the Internet) and therefore based on UDP rather than TCP.
" QUIC combines a carefully selected collection of techniques to reduce the number of round trips we need to surf the Internet ", writes Google. In addition to security with TLS, it holds the promise of reduced latency for data transport. QUIC also takes advantage of a congestion control, error correction and reduction mechanism reconnections for mobile clients.
This QUIC protocol was introduced by Google in June 2013 via an addition in Chrome Canary. Google is now talking about submitting it to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) with the idea that it will become an Internet standard.
During the last quarter, Google increased the amount of traffic for its services via QUIC and considers that the analysis of performance shows that " the results obtained so far are positive ". In particular, less latency in establishing a connection, better congestion control and better recovery of losses.
With Google search, the loading time of a so-called average page is improved by 3%. A gain which seems minimal but remains significant taking into account the various optimizations already exploited. For connections to YouTube through QUIC, Google claims a 30% reduction in rebuffing when viewing videos and claims that 75% of connections can take advantage of QUIC's zero-round-trip functionality (0 RTT; for the number of round trips).
It remains to be seen what the IETF will think. A process that could still be long, while the competition will also have a say.