Google is quite confident that it can revolutionise the way web is surfed all over the world with its home-made QUIC networking protocol and is planning to propose it to the IETF standards body to make it part of the next-generation internet.
QUIC is Google’s experimental, low-latency Internet transportation protocol over UDP, a protocol that is often used by gaming, streaming media and VoIP services. The name QUIC stands for Quick UDP Internet Connection. With the help of this protocol, Google says that the web surfing can be boosted up to a substantial level. Google disclosed this week, about half of all requests from Chrome to Google’s servers are now served over QUIC.
The counterpart of UDP and QUIC in the protocol world is basically TCP, which along with the Internet Protocol (IP) makes up the core communication language of the Internet. UDP, which stands for User Datagram Protocol, is significantly more light-weight in than TCP, largely because of its connection-less and unreliable nature.
Establishing an initial connection via TLS is typically three times slower than setting up an ordinary TCP connection, and each subsequent connection, while faster, is still twice as slow as plain TCP. QUIC, meanwhile, offers equivalent security to TLS over TCP but with lower latency than plain TLS.
Google’s Chrome team explained in a Friday blog post–
The standard way to do secure web browsing involves communicating over TCP + TLS, which requires 2 to 3 round trips with a server to establish a secure connection before the browser can request the actual web page. QUIC is designed so that if a client has talked to a given server before, it can start sending data without any round trips, which makes web pages load faster.
Google has been quietly working on QUIC since 2013, after successfully having its work on the SPDY protocol form the groundwork for the IETF’s HTTP/2 standard. Google says that even on highly optimized sites like Google Search it has seen a 3 per cent reduction in average page load times – which, while not huge, is nothing to sneeze at.
The effects are more dramatic over poor or slow internet links; think mobile networks. Google says the very crappiest connections saw their Google Search page load times reduced by one full second when using QUIC instead of TCP/TLS.
Another substantial gain for QUIC is improved congestion control and loss recovery. Packet sequence numbers are never reused when retransmitting a packet. This avoids ambiguity about which packets have been received and avoids dreaded retransmission timeouts. As a result, QUIC outshines TCP under poor network conditions, shaving a full second off the Google Search page load time for the slowest 1% of connections.
These benefits are even more apparent for video services like YouTube. Users report 30% fewer rebuffers when watching videos over QUIC. This means less time spent staring at the spinner and more time watching videos.