Status

The QUIC working group has worked fiercely since late 2016 on specifying the protocols and is approaching final stages at the time of writing (June 2020).

During 2019 and 2020 there has been an increasing number of interoperability tests with HTTP/3 and CDNs and Browsers have started launching initial support - though often behind flags.

There are a number of different QUIC implementations listed in the QUIC working groups' wiki pages.

Implementing QUIC is not easy and the protocol has kept moving and changing even up to this date.

Servers

NGINX support for QUIC and HTTP/3 is under development and a preview version has been announced.

There have been no public statement in terms of support for QUIC from Apache.

Clients

None of the larger browser vendors have yet shipped any version, at any state, that can run the IETF version of QUIC or HTTP/3.

Google Chrome has shipped with a working implementation of Google's own QUIC version since many years and has recently started supporting the IETF version behind a flag. Firefox similarly supports this behind a flag.

curl shipped the first experimental HTTP/3 support (draft-22) in the 7.66.0 release on September 11, 2019. curl uses either the Quiche library from Cloudflare or the ngtcp2 family of libraries to get the work done.

Implementation Obstacles

QUIC decided to use TLS 1.3 as the foundation for the crypto and security layer to avoid inventing something new and instead lean on a trustworthy and existing protocol. However, while doing this, the working group also decided that to really streamline the use of TLS in QUIC, it should only use "TLS messages" and not "TLS records" for the protocol.

This might sound like an innocuous change, but this has actually caused a significant hurdle for many QUIC stack implementors. Existing TLS libraries that support TLS 1.3 simply do not have APIs enough to expose this functionality and allow QUIC to access it. While several QUIC implementors come from larger organizations who work on their own TLS stack in parallel, this is not true for everyone.

The dominant open source heavyweight OpenSSL for example, does not have any API for this. The plan to address this seems to happen in their PR 8797 that aims to introduce an API that is very similar to the one of BoringSSL.

This will eventually also lead to deployment obstacles since QUIC stacks will need to either base themselves on other TLS libraries, use a separate patched OpenSSL build or require an update to a future OpenSSL version.

Kernels and CPU load

Both Google and Facebook have mentioned that their wide scale deployments of QUIC require roughly twice the amount of CPU than the same traffic load does when serving HTTP/2 over TLS.

Some explanations for this include

  • the UDP parts in primarily Linux is not at all as optimized as the TCP stack is, since it has not traditionally been used for high speed transfers like this.

  • TCP and TLS offloading to hardware exist, but that is much rarer for UDP and basically non-existing for QUIC.

There are reasons to believe that performance and CPU requirements will improve over time.