A POSTING at an SD Times blog suggests that Facebook has rewritten its PHP runtime from scratch.
Alex Handy updated his post to indicate that he now believes that instead of a completely new runtime, Facebook actually intends to release a compiler for PHP.
Apparently, a week ago, the core PHP team was invited to the Facebook campus and asked to sign an NDA where the project was revealed in detail.
Alex Handy understands that Facebook hired someone two years ago to perform the rewrite, and believes it was a one-man job from start to finish.
Whether Facebook produces a runtime or a compiler, this comes as a slap in the face to Zend, which will obviously contest the suggestion that PHP is slow under its Zend Engine virtual machine.
By building a compiler to make PHP a pre-compiled language, Facebook would hope to provide drastic improvements to the speed of its applications and software, without the use of a just-in-time compiler and virtual machine.
Handy believes this will "push PHP into Facebook's corner of the world", and it's easy to see why - any considerable performance benefit for an established, widespread technology will be welcomed with open arms.
On Tuesday Facebook will make an announcement taking the development public, and is expected to make it available as open source software. µ
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