Amazon’s Silk: An Innovative Cloud OS for Users


Amazon recently unveiled its new tablet, the Kindle Fire, which is creating a buzz in the tech world. While the tablet hardware and customized Android operating system are noteworthy, the real game-changer is Amazon’s web browser called Silk. Unlike other browsers, Silk is designed with the cloud in mind, making it a revolutionary client software delivery mechanism.

Silk and Chrome: Setting Them Apart

Silk is not simply Google Chrome in disguise. Unlike Chrome, which functions as a bulky operating system within a browser, Silk takes a more streamlined approach. Chrome treats tabs like separate processes, isolating them to prevent one malfunctioning tab from affecting the whole browsing experience. On the other hand, Silk is a browser that can be flexible, depending on user preferences.

The Power of Silk: Under the Hood

At its core, Silk operates as a Webkit browser. In its default mode, Silk works like any other browser, with all the necessary components for basic web rendering. However, when run in cloud mode, Silk leverages Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to enhance browsing performance and efficiency.

Caching and Proxying on EC2

To accelerate browsing speed, Silk leverages EC2 as a proxy server and cache. When a user issues a request, Silk sends the URL to a cloud-based component hosted on EC2. This component fetches all the necessary resources for displaying the webpage, such as HTML, CSS, images, and JavaScript. Since many of these resources are already hosted on Amazon’s cloud, loading them is quick and cost-effective.

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Moreover, the EC2 component optimizes the resources for each specific client. For example, if an image is too large, EC2 will resize it accordingly, ensuring a seamless display on the user’s screen. Additionally, with machine learning capabilities, EC2 analyzes a user’s browsing patterns, predicts which pages they are likely to visit next, and proactively pre-fetches those pages’ components. This proactive approach allows for faster page delivery between the server and the client.

Rendering Pages on EC2

Once all the components of a webpage are cached and readily available on EC2, Silk can offload most of the rendering pipeline to the cloud. This approach reduces the load on the client’s device and optimizes the user experience. The Silk video released by Amazon highlights several components that EC2 can dynamically handle for faster browsing, including networking, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more.

Although the video’s list seems to be sourced inaccurately from an MSDN article on Internet Explorer, it provides valuable insights into the typical steps involved in rendering webpages. Leveraging EC2 for most rendering tasks presents an enormous opportunity for improving browsing speed. Even the networking aspect of rendering can be handled by the proxy component described earlier.

Silk: A Client-Side Cloud OS?

While not explicitly stated, Silk may eventually evolve into a browser-based operating system similar to Chrome, but with a unique twist. In this scenario, the OS-like features, such as page isolation and separate processes, would reside on EC2, creating a client-side cloud OS. By employing EC2’s resources, Amazon could enhance both the security and stability of the browsing experience, making Silk a more robust platform in the future.

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Mobile Advertising Potential

Silk’s cache and proxy functions have an additional benefit, namely amassing valuable web history data that advertisers crave. Leveraging this data, Amazon could potentially enter the market as a dominant mobile advertising platform. If Amazon decides to port Silk to other platforms, it could rival Google in the mobile ads space and surpass Apple in an area where it has struggled thus far.


With the introduction of Silk, Amazon has presented an innovative approach to browsing by taking advantage of the cloud. By combining the convenience of a traditional browser with the efficiency of cloud computing, Silk has the potential to transform the way users interact with the internet. Google now faces the challenge of catching up with its Chrome browser, while Apple lags behind in this cutting-edge technology. The future of the browsing experience remains exciting as Amazon continues to refine Silk and expand its capabilities.

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