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Google's SPDY protocol could ramp up Web speeds

Researchers at Google are playing with a new Web protocol that could theoretically decrease the time it takes to load a Web page by a significant amount.

As part of its continual push to speed up the Web, Google is taking a look at one of the most basic connections: the conversation between Web servers and browsers.

Google is working on an experimental Web protocol that could make Chrome much faster. Google

For almost forever, HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) has been the standard that allows Web servers and computer browsers to understand each other, transforming the bits and bytes served up from a Web publisher into a Web page in your browser. But Google announced Thursday that it's working on project called SPDY (pronounced, of course, "speedy") that it feels could make everything faster than HTTP currently allows.

"We want to continue building on the Web's tradition of experimentation and optimization to further support the evolution of websites and browsers. So over the last few months, a few of us here at Google have been experimenting with new ways for Web browsers and servers to speak to each other, resulting in a prototype Web server and Google Chrome client with SPDY support," wrote Mike Belshe and Roberto Peon, software engineers at Google, in a blog post.

In lab conditions unlikely to be duplicated in the real world, Google said SPDY allowed Web pages to load up to 55 percent faster on some of the Internet's biggest sites. "There is still a lot of work we need to do to evaluate the performance of SPDY in real-world conditions. However, we believe that we have reached the stage where our small team could benefit from the active participation, feedback and assistance of the Web community," Belshe and Peon wrote in their blog post.

Techcrunch clarified with Google that it is not planning to advocate one day flipping a switch and moving from HTTP to SPDY, but rather has a more gradual plan in mind where SPDY plays a role in addition to HTTP. One interesting development to watch will be whether Google plans to keep this as a Chrome-only enhancement, or whether it plans to advocate it as a Web standard within the browser community.