Amazon’s New Silk Redefines Browser Tech

By | September 29, 2011 | 11 Comments

Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet recently launched in New York. What’s more interesting to us is that the company also showed off a bit of potentially radical software technology as well, namely the new browser for the Fire, called Silk.

Silk is different from other browsers because it can be configured to let Amazon’s cloud service do much of the work assembling complex webpages. The result is that users may experience much faster load times for webpages, compared to other mobile devices, according to the company.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted that most modern webpages, such as Amazon’s own or CNN’s, are complex creations, with multiple photos, animations, and complex scripts and mark up code. The CNN home page, for instance, is built by the browser from 53 static images, 39 dynamic images, three Flash files, 30 JavaScript files from seven different domains, 29 HTML files and seven CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) files.

The modern Web has become a complicated place. It is difficult – challenging – for mobile devices to display modern webpages rapidly. To speed up page rendering on the Kindle Fire, Silk uses a “split browser” approach. It partially lives in EC2 and it partially lives on Kindle Fire. – Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

All the user’s webpage requests will be sent through a service in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for processing. The service will act as a caching service, as well as a staging area where the more complex bits of webpages can be pre processed before being redirected to the user’s browser.

Silk is fully functional as a stand alone browser. It supports HTML5, JavaScript, CSS, and associated next generation Web standards. It also supports Flash. Amazon built the software from the ground up, using the WebKit open source browser engine.


About (Author Profile)


Being passionate about software, Armin joined FavBrowser.com in early 2011 and has been actively writing ever since. Having accepted the challenge, he also enjoys watching anime, indulging in good books, staying fit and healthy, and trying new things.

  • Heath

    Did Amazon just say it was “pioneering cloud computing”? Opera has been rendering web pages on a cloud and reformatting sites for devices for 6 years with Opera Mini.

    • Mikah

      Yes its standard practice to copy Opera & not acknowledge it or even pretend its all new.
      Of course it helps if you’re living in Cloud Cuckoo Land 

  • Nobody

    and a new ultimate spy machine has been born.. to join google, facebook and apple

    also, dont compare it with opera mini – the toy browser. opera mini is a relic of last decade that does not belong to the same class as full browsers

    btw, my galaxy s2 has absolutely no problems rendering amazon front page.. complex maybe it is (and not so pretty) but slow? no.

    • Mikah

      I thought all smart phones were toys for boys & very suitable for a toy browser like Opera Mini.

  • Booob

    You can also use Opera Turbo on desktop. It’s exactly the same

  • Marcos Caceres

    hehe, poor Opera… their PR team should take note! Amazon just managed to make really outdated ideas really cool and new again. Opera really needs to bring Mini, Mobile and Desktop together once and for all – though I’m sure they will only do so once they stop cashing in from operator deals with Mini. 

    • Charlie

      You can’t put a full desktop browser on a very basic phone, thats one reason why Opera MIni is so popular, and that it compresses data 90%

    • Mikah

      Combining a mobile phone with a Desktop PC you think is a good idea ?
      Cloud computing you think is a really outdated idea ?
      Maybe you should contact Google & tell them why Google Chrome OS  is such a bad idea.

  • OperaBoy

    Opera certainly had compressed browsing and all that first. The two major differences are that Amazon has a cloud-based infinite cache, whereas Opera leaves the cache on the PC, limited by the settings thereon, and that Amazon is using their huge cloud they have been building to the increase the sheer computing power available to the end user, whereas Opera only has their local servers, limiting their service’s power to those computers.

    • Mikah

      That’s nonsense Opera do not cache pages on your PC , when you use Turbo on a PC & request the New York Times  Opera have it stored on their server cache & supply it.
      I use a desktop PC & hardly ever use Turbo Mode as I have broadband.  Mostly the Opera Servers is for Opera Mini mobiles.
      Amazon have not got an infinite cloud based cache where did infinite come from.

      • Anonymous

        The thing I hate about turbo is that the servers are too far away.