Google Chrome to drop SPDY for HTTP/2

February 10, 2015 | 12:04

Tags: #chromium #http #http2 #spdy #web #web-browser #web-server #world-wide-web

Companies: #chrome #google

Google has announced that it is dropping support for its in-house SPDY protocol in favour of the HTTP/2 standard, following the adoption of many of the former's features by the latter.

Google launched SPDY - pronounced 'speedy,' naturally - back in 2009 with the promise that it would complement the existing HyperText Transport Protocol 1.1 (HTTP/1.1) standard with new features designed to significantly speed up the web. These included header compression, multiplexed streams which allowed content to be loaded simultaneously rather than an object at a time, and traffic prioritisation which would see the content vital to the page's rendering being loaded first. At the time, the company claimed that its initial implementation of SPDY in its Chrome web browser led to an impressive 64 per cent reduction in page load times when paired with a SPDY-compatible web server.

Since SPDY's introduction, the HTTP/2 protocol has marched steadily towards standardisation. In doing so, it has picked up numerous features which make it similar in practice to SPDY - including header compression, multiplexing and traffic prioritisation. As a result, developers interested in speeding up web traffic have begun looking towards the standard HTTP/2 over non-standard SPDY - and that includes Google's own developers.

'Chrome has supported SPDY since Chrome 6, but since most of the benefits are present in HTTP/2, it’s time to say goodbye,' wrote Google's Chris Bentzel on the Chromium blog late last night. 'We plan to remove support for SPDY in early 2016, and to also remove support for the TLS extension named NPN in favor of ALPN in Chrome at the same time. Server developers are strongly encouraged to move to HTTP/2 and ALPN.

'We’re happy to have contributed to the open standards process that led to HTTP/2, and hope to see wide adoption given the broad industry engagement on standardisation and implementation. We also look forward to further advancements in fundamental Internet protocols that lead to a faster and more secure Internet for everyone.'

The removal of SPDY will take place once HTTP/2 support is fully integrated into the Chrome browser, which Bentzel indicates will begin 'in the upcoming weeks' with the release of Chrome 40.
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