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PHP and HipHop Virtual Machine Combined

News for PHP developers this month sees the general-purpose scripting language and HHVM HipHop Virtual Machine (an open-source project created by Facebook) now able to run side-by-side on the same server.

The idea is that this will increase the speed and stability for websites in production environments. By doing so, modern websites and applications with dynamic content built on HHVM can see an average response time increase of 560%.

In conjunction with this development, WP Engine, a SaaS content management platform for websites and applications built on WordPress, launched Mercury, the company's software for dynamic content built on HHVM. Developed by WP Engine Labs, Mercury is 5.6X faster than the company's existing platform, even under high load conditions.

"The enhanced speed and performance by HHVM in production environments is an obvious boon for PHP developers and the WP Engine Labs team has done an impressive job in democratizing HHVM for the open-source community," said Paul Tarjan, head of open source for HHVM at Facebook. "We are excited to work alongside the Labs team to fine-tune the stack to reach HHVM's full potential and drastically speed up PHP execution. PHP is the bedrock of Facebook as well as much of the Internet and this announcement should come as a major fillip for the entire developer community."

HHVM was designed to execute programs written in Hack and PHP and achieves performance by running PHP code faster than standard PHP 5.5. As a young project, the system sometimes requires rebooting, which has led to the technology being deemed too unstable to use in production environments yet. However, with the WP Engine Mercury platform, PHP kicks in instantly to handle the load when HHVM requires resetting. The fallback PHP stack is an optimized WP Engine WordPress stack. This ensures that websites and applications not only benefit from the speed of HHVM, but also benefit from enhanced stability enabling HHVM to be used in production environments for the first time.

"WordPress is built on PHP and currently powers more than 22% of websites on the Internet and by allowing HHVM to run on WordPress speeding it up by 560%, this breakthrough will come as a huge boost to not just the WordPress community, but developers everywhere," said Tomas Puig, Director of Labs at WP Engine. "It's a testament to the Labs team that we are the first to enable HHVM and PHP to run side-by-side on the same server in a geo-redundant environment. With the Mercury launch, enterprises and businesses can rely on WordPress to host their dynamic content in an even faster environment."

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