Although the Kindle Fire tablet consumed much of the focus at Amazon.com's launch event today in New York, the company also showed off a bit of radical software technology as well, namely the new browser for the Fire, called Silk.
Silk is different from most other browsers in that it can be configured to let Amazon's cloud service do much of the work assembling complex Web pages. The result is that users may experience much faster load times for Web pages, compared to other mobile devices, according to the company. Opera's mobile browser does the same thing to reduce bandwidth usage, sending just the final rendered Web page to the browser.
[ While InfoWorld's Galen Gruman says that the Kindle Fire can't hold a candle to the iPad, Robert X. Cringely says the Amazon Store is the real iPad killer. |Keep up on key mobile developments and insights via Twitter and with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]
Silk's split-browser approach
To speed page rendering on the Kindle Fire, Silk uses a "split browser" approach, Bezos said. "It partially lives in EC2, and it partially lives on Kindle Fire." All the user's Web page requests will be sent through a service in the Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) for processing. The service acts as a caching service, as well as a staging area where the more complex bits of Web pages can be preprocessed before being redirected to the user's browser.
The site's original content, as well as content personalized for each user, will be requested from the content provider.
The service uses content compression techniques, such as re-encoding video and images before sending them to a device. The service also keeps connections constantly open to popular websites, which reduces the time needed to negotiate connections on a one-to-one basis.