NiXPS
Friday, February 05, 2010
  Speed matters
Facebook uses a lot of PHP, and given the scale of the service, they must be watching performance very closely.
Bandwidth and infrastructure will be their main costs, so it makes economic sense to try to run as much of Facebook on as little infrastructure as possible.
And one of their tools they have announced this week: HipHop.

HipHop is a toolchain that preprocesses PHP into C++, which can subsequently be compiled by a C compiler, and then used with their webservers. Facebook says they are seeing a 50% increase in performance.

This is beautiful engineering: they can now run double the load on the same infrastructure.

Evangelists always cleam that dynamic (or interpreted) languages are a win-win.
You win on ease of use, as a dynamic language is easier to program for, easier to debug and easier to maintain.
And you supposedly win on performance, as they run as quick as compiled code.
The latter is never true in practice, no matter what complicated theoretical explanation they always give to say it really is so.

There are numerous real world examples:


A lot of the evangelism for dynamic (and interpreted) languages is like marketing propaganda; they sell you a dream, but a lot of dreams do not survive a confrontation with reality.

The fastest and most efficient way to run code is to use the least amount of the best instructions for a given cpu.

Speed matters in the real world.
 
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