If you run alternative server software like NGINX or Lighttpd instead of Apache, you know very well about how you need to run PHP as a standalone FastCGI daemon. (This is because there is no equivalent to Apache’s mod_php.) If you have the faintest idea what I’m talking about, you may be interested in something new in PHP 5.3.3.
The latest PHP release includes PHP-FPM, the PHP process manager.
I’ve managed to find one decent guide to compiling and setting it up so far. It looks fairly simple. I might have to give it a try sometime, as my current setup (which doesn’t use PHP-FPM) tends to hang occasionally.