Francois Beaufort had a very good day yesterday. Not only did the leaked video of the Chromebook Pixel he discovered earlier this month turn out to be real, he also noticed that Google started work on a new web protocol in Chrome called QUIC. This protocol, it seems, aims to update the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), a core part of the Internet protocol suite that also includes TCP, for example.
UDP is often used for applications that need real-time connectivity (video conferencing, games etc.). It opens up a direct connection between two machines, which makes it perfect for real-time applications and streaming data where low latency is very important. In return, however, it lacks some of the reliability controls of other Internet protocols like the TCP protocol.
QUIC also focuses on data streams, it seems, but with the extra benefit of adding a built-in encryption layer and some basic reliability controls.
It looks like the project was merged into Chrome just a few days ago, but work on the project seems to have started late last year. And while some people noticed it at the time, the project has mostly gone unnoticed. Now, however, it looks like it is becoming a core part of the Chromium project – the open source initiative behind Google’s Chrome browser.
We contacted Google for a comment about this, but all we got from a spokesperson was the company’s usual non-denial that “the team is continuously testing new features. At this time, we have nothing new to announce.”
With SPDY, of course, Google is currently working on a similar initiative for HTTP, and it looks like a lot of the work on SPDY may flow into the HTTP 2.0 standard. Google probably hopes to achieve something similar for UDP with QUIC. As it aims to make the web faster, more reliable and more secure, the company is clearly not content with just making its applications faster, but it has a vested interest in also pushing forward some of the low-level technologies that make today’s Internet work in the first place.