Facebook unveils HipHop for PHP 'source code transformer'

It's pretty much common knowledge that speed is the key aspect to the Internet. If a website isn't fast, chances are, people won't use it. Slow Internet connections will do nothing but frustrate users, as well as damaging companies. Google is a company that is intent on increasing speed, even by tiny amounts, in order to provide the best possible user experience. Earlier, Facebook announced its own developments that will help improve the speed, in the form of a 'source code transformer.'

Developers at Facebook have been working on a rather important project for the last two years, dubbed HipHop for PHP. The announcement, made on Facebook's developer blog, lists the improvements of this project, as well as what it actually aims to do. According to Facebook, HipHop for PHP isn't a compiler, but rather is a tool designed to convert PHP into highly optimized C++, and then compile it with g++. HipHop currently includes the code transformer, Facebook's own implementation of PHP's runtime system, as well as a complete rewrite of many PHP Extensions, in order to gain speed. 

What does all this mean? Essentially, a better Facebook. The company claims that it has been able to reduce CPU usage on web servers by up to 50%, depending on the web page, which is a massive reduction for a site as large as it is. We're not going to go into fine detail on how it works – you can check out the previously linked Facebook blog post for that – but you should know that you've been testing this out yourselves for the past six months. 90% of Facebook's traffic uses HipHop now, only after half a year of it being suitable for widespread usage. As per tradition, Facebook will releasing their code on github soon, meaning that other developers will be able to view the source code themselves.

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