PHP is my favorite server-side programming language, but it has one major Achilles’ heel: speed. A language that is interpreted by the server at load time can’t hope to compete with a compiled language for speed. That’s what Facebook’s new project, “HipHop for PHP,” aims to solve. HipHop converts PHP scripts to C++ code and then uses g++ to compile it. This brings a CPU usage decrease of up to 50%, according to the announcement.
One night at a Hackathon a few years ago (see Prime Time Hack), I started my first piece of code transforming PHP into C++. The languages are fairly similar syntactically and C++ drastically outperforms PHP when it comes to both CPU and memory usage. Even PHP itself is written in C. We knew that it was impossible to successfully rewrite an entire codebase of this size by hand, but wondered what would happen if we built a system to do it programmatically.
Interesting, for sure. Imagine using it with WordPress for a high-traffic blog…
HipHop for PHP: Move Fast [Facebook Developer Blog]