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PHP Cache Accelerator for Windows Unveiled

Microsoft on Tuesday announced a test version of an extension that's designed to help speed up PHP-based Web applications running on Windows platforms.

The new "Windows Cache Extension for PHP" solution, currently in beta release, is an accelerator that works with the PHP engine in Windows and Windows Server. Microsoft released two versions. Users of PHP 5.2 can download the beta here, while PHP 5.3 users can get it here.

To add the accelerator, IT pros need to run the Microsoft Web Platform Installer 2.0 RC application. The extension works with Internet Information Services (IIS) versions 7.5, 7.0, 6.0 and 5.1, which are part of Windows Server products.

With the accelerator in place, developers do not need to modify their code to take advantage of any performance improvements, according to a blog by Ruslan Yakushev, a program manager on the Microsoft IIS team.

There are a few caveats to using this extension, the blog noted. It works only with "non-thread-safe builds of PHP." Also, IIS needs to be configured to "run PHP via FastCGI." (Microsoft is currently planning to release FastCGI 1.5 sometime this fall.) For users of PHP 5.3, the extension "can only be used with the x86 VC9 build."

The beta can improve Windows' PHP cache performance in three ways, according to Microsoft. Compiled PHP script bitecode gets stored in shared memory for repeat use. A file cache component reduces the number of file operations handled by the PHP engine. Finally, Microsoft added a caching system for relative file paths that reduces the time spent mapping them to absolute file paths.

Microsoft provides a guide authored by Yakushev on how to use the extension. There's also a forum to report bugs and ask questions or suggest new features.

Microsoft hasn't yet tested the extension with Zend Server, according to a Forum reply on Sept. 2. Zend Server is a Web server product specialized for running enterprise-grade PHP code.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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