Feeds

Facebook 'HipHop VM' juices PHP speed pill

Aim to bust engineers out of edit-reload-debug dungeon

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Facebook hopes to shave seconds off of its PHP web pages loads and juice its servers' performance with an execution engine for the C++ code transformer it cooked up last year.

The web giant's engineers have unveiled something called HipHop Virtual Machine (hhvm) for the HipHop for PHP product already being used in software development by Facebook.

The plan is to eventually use hhvm for the execution of all PHP code on Facebook, according to hhvm project contributor Jason Evans here.

It's not clear when the change over will take place, however, as Evans reckons that the translator still needs to be stabilized and there's need for creation of an on-disk byte code format that will help reduce start-up times and store global static analysis results.

Facebook's come up with hhvm to further the work from last year on HipHop for PHP. This was conceived to speed-up Facebook page-load times and to help squeeze more compute performance from its army of 10,000 servers.

HipHop for PHP takes PHP - a flexible, dynamic language favored for the web - and converts it into C++, a statically typed language that's the world's third most popular programming language; it remains popular in part, because compiled C++ executes fast compared to interpreted languages.

The problem for Facebook was that HipHop for PHP compiled PHP statically, a fact Facebook tried to sidestep with the creation of an interpreter called hphpi.

However, Evans reckons Facebook's found hphpi takes a lot of effort to maintain.

Based on early numbers, the hhvm byte code interpreter is approximately 1.6x faster for a set of real-world Facebook-specific benchmarks than the interpreter. The translator is approximately 0.6X as fast as hphpc but not quite as fast as hphpc-compiled binaries.

"For perspective on why this matters, consider that many Facebook engineers spend their days developing PHP code in an endless edit-reload-debug cycles," Evans said.

"The difference between eight-second and five-second reloads due to switching from hphpi to the hhvm interpreter makes a big difference to productivity, and this improvement will be even more dramatic once we enable the translator."

Evans reckoned his team expects to rapidly close the performance gap between hhvm and hphpc-compiled binaries during the coming months as the dynamic translator stabilizes and matures.

"In fact, we predict that hhvm will eventually outperform statically compiled binaries in Facebook's production environment, in part because we are already sharing enough infrastructure with the static compiler that we will soon be able to leverage static analysis results during tracelet creation," he said. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.