Amazon’s new Kindle Fire was announced the other day, and it comes with a new browser SILK.
SILK has a very radical departure from the the normal browser architecture. Typically, a browser is an application that resides totally on the computing device, and makes requests for content from various sources on the internet as specified in the target page at the URL the user selects (from a favorite/bookmark or a page link, etc.). A typical page has many resources that it must send to the user, many of them from different sites. For each resource, there is a unique URL embedded in the page, and the browser must make a separate internet request/retrieve for each one. This takes time for complicated pages (say NY TImes or CNN) for the reasons listed below:
- The last leg of the journey is typically the slowest – it is not over a super fast industrial internet connection, but rather over a home internet connection or a possibly congested or otherwise degraded wifi connection.
- Every request requires complete set of steps to find, request, and retrieve the particular resource. Each of these takes time, especially if over a slower connection.
- The computing device itself may not have sufficient power to render certain content quickly. Portable devices in particular may be taxed in rendering large media files, when they may wind up in the end just reducing them in size to fit the smaller screen
So what is the solution? The new Silk browser is connected directly to an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server that also has its version of the browser running. When a Kindle Fire device makes a request for a complex web page, then a lot of the heavy lifting is done by the server which performs many tasks. These fall mainly into two categories.