Facebook’s HHVM Helps WP Engine’s New Mercury Platform Run 5.6X Faster

By David Cohen 

HHVMHackLogos650Facebook’s HipHop Virtual Machine continues to help software and platforms outside of the social network drastically increase their speeds, as WP Engine, a software-as-a-service content-management platform for websites and applications built on WordPress, became the latest company to tout the virtues of HHVM.

WP Engine Thursday announced the rollout of Mercury, its new platform for dynamic content, which was built on HHVM. The company said it has seen an average response time increase of 560 percent when using HHVM.

Mercury is in alpha-lab production, with 10up as its first user, and its features include:

  • Geo-redundant master servers: Mercury is layered upon a new master platform, providing two identical fully in-sync clones of the server from geographically dispersed locations. This provides advanced disaster recovery, serving up data from the clone best able to handle the load.
  • Pre-configured Vagrant tool: Provides a streamlined setup for local development and private staging environments. Vagrant provides an easy-to-use automated workflow for building development environments; decreasing setup times and increasing production parity.
  • Built-in partnership with 10up: WP Engine partnered with the full stack engineering team at 10up, which has architected websites for household names such as AT&T, TechCrunch, Time, Wired, NBC Universal and more. The result is infrastructure and hosting technology years ahead of its time.

And WP Engine credited HHVM with allowing Mercury to:

  • Enhance customer experience due to a 5.6 times increase in speed.
  • Enhance search-engine-optimization ranking on Google due to faster load time.
  • Automatically scale immediately to unexpected spikes in traffic.
  • Scale user-tailored, dynamic websites such as membership and e-commerce sites without the need to purchase additional servers.
  • Create dynamic content per user without huge server clusters or escalating cost.

Facebook head of open source for HHVM Paul Tarjan said in a release introducing Mercury:

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. 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.

WP Engine director of labs Tomas Puig added:

The Labs team realized the unique speed enhancements Facebook’s HHVM project offered, and we made it our mission to make a five times PHP performance boost a reality, and we surpassed that. 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, a major technological breakthrough, making HHVM ready for production environments. WordPress currently powers more than 22 percent of websites on the Internet, and that number is growing. With the Mercury launch, businesses can rely on WordPress to host their dynamic content, but now in an even more lightning-fast environment.

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