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Amazon unveils cloud-accelerated web browser

Silk uses AWS to speed up the mobile web

Silk uses AWS to speed up the mobile web

Amazon has built a brand new web browser called Silk that uses cloud computing and predictive technology to reduce load times. Silk's browser subsystems exist both on the device and on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers, and the workload is shared between the local and remote parts.

In their video, Amazon's devs explain that mobile devices weren't designed to do the processor intensive work that it takes to load a web page, so Silk uses powerful computers in the cloud to do it instead.

Brett Taylor, principal product manager at Amazon Silk, explains how it makes the web faster for mobile devices: "For a typical web request, your device is going to have to go back and forth across the wireless network perhaps dozens of times to get all the page assets. Each of those hops is going to be 100 miliseconds. With a split browser, when you're requesting assets from a browser that's running in the cloud, and when a lot of those assets might be living on the very same cloud, that's a five milisecond request. When you think about the 80 or so files on a typical web page, that difference really adds up."

The split-browser architecture also enables Silk to do some clever things to the page before sending it to the Kindle, such as optimized content delivery.

Peter Vosshall, a distinguished engineer, said: "We can optimise what we're sending back to the device to account for screen size, pixel depth. There's no point in giving you a 3MB JPEG if it's going to look the same when it's 50k. So we'll make that image 50k and it'll get to your browser a lot faster."

Vosshall added "Our backend has some of the fattest pipes to the internet that you'll find, and we do all the heavy lifting on the backend and serve optimised content to your device."

Silk also uses machine learning technologies to pre-load content based on its analysis of of aggregate user behaviour across a large number of sites. It works out typical patterns of user behaviour and requests the pages it thinks you'll want before you even try to load them.

Silk is currently available exclusively for the Kindle Fire, and Amazon is hiring for the Silk team.