PHP-FPM vs node.js - The REAL Performance Battle


Even after my last article about PHP and node.js benchmarking, my search for the holy grail of performance truth still continues. However, I do understand now that pitting PHP running on apache against a stand-alone node was a bit unfair with PHP for it was limited by what the apache configuration could handle.

Benchmark{.alignnone .size-full .wp-image-3082 width=”1021” height=”622”}

No, this time I went with nginx, a light and performance oriented server that was specifically designed to solve the C10K problem from the ground-up. And who better than PHP-FPM, the enhanced Fastcgi process manager that implements asynchronous features (at least in theory) to take on node.js. node.js is the one server that implements all its features primarily using callbacks in javascript, and thus drastically improvising performance by leveraging the benefits of functional programming (again, in theory).

I used the same code I had used earlier but did a small improvement to it so that the random filenames generated for performing I/O are unique:

$s=""; //generate a random string of 108KB and a random filename
//generate a random filename
do {
	$fname = rand(1,99999).'.txt';
} while(file_exists($fname));

//generate a random string of 108kb

//write the string to disk

//read the string back from disk
$result = file_get_contents($fname);

//write the string back on the response stream
echo $result;

And here is the Javascript version:

var http = require('http');    
var server = http.createServer(handler);
var fs = require('fs');

function handler(request, response) {
	response.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type': 'text/plain'});

	//generate a random filename
	do{fname = (1 + Math.floor(Math.random()*99999999))+'.txt';
	} while(fs.existsSync(fname));

	//generate a random string of 108kb
	var payload="";
		n=Math.floor(65 + (Math.random()*(122-65)) );

	//write the string to disk in async manner
	fs.writeFile(fname, payload, function(err) {
			if (err) console.log(err);

			//read the string back from disk in async manner
			fs.readFile(fname, function (err, data) {
				if (err) console.log(err);
				response.end(data); //write the string back on the response stream

console.log('Running on localhost:8080');

So, what happens when we run a piece of web application code performing async I/O for two thousand times (with two hundred concurrent) using a tool like apache-bench? Who is faster - PHP-FPM or node.js? Here is the answer.

So, moral of the story is that even the latest and greatest of PHP world falls behind node.js (though by a much smaller margin than before). Now, I do understand that PHP’s market is very large, and with so many opensource CMSes like wordpress, mediawiki and drupal already powered by PHP, it is quite difficult to shake PHP’s market share in the near future.

On the other hand, with the performance advantage that node.js offers, its a very lucrative option for startups small businesses that don’t have the funding to develop high-end enterprise apps in say, Java or SAP. More importantly, if tommorrow I were to given a task of developing a performance-driven app, is there one reason why I should not write it in node.js and go for PHP-FPM instead? Some food for thought. Comments are Welcome!

Summarized results:
PHP-FPM: 64.447 secondsnode.js: 42.441 seconds

The Machine:
Intel Pentium Dual-Core 2.30GHz running Linux 3.2.0

The Configurations:
PHP-FPM: PHP 5.4.23 (fpm-fcgi) (built: Jun 22 2014 14:51:15
NODE: node v0.10.28

Detailed Results:
ab -c 200 -n 2000 http://localhost:8080/asyncdemo/asyncdemo.php

Concurrency Level:      200
Time taken for tests:   64.447 seconds
Complete requests:      2000
Failed requests:        6
   (Connect: 0, Receive: 0, Length: 6, Exceptions: 0)
Write errors:           0
Non-2xx responses:      6
Total transferred:      215649378 bytes
HTML transferred:       215355222 bytes
Requests per second:    31.03 [#/sec] (mean)
Time per request:       6444.742 [ms] (mean)
Time per request:       32.224 [ms] (mean, across all concurrent requests)
Transfer rate:          3267.70 [Kbytes/sec] receive

ab -c 200 -n 2000 http://localhost:8080/

Concurrency Level:      200
Time taken for tests:   42.441 seconds
Complete requests:      2000
Failed requests:        1
   (Connect: 0, Receive: 0, Length: 1, Exceptions: 0)
Write errors:           0
Total transferred:      216155440 bytes
HTML transferred:       215953440 bytes
Requests per second:    47.12 [#/sec] (mean)
Time per request:       4244.115 [ms] (mean)
Time per request:       21.221 [ms] (mean, across all concurrent requests)
Transfer rate:          4973.69 [Kbytes/sec] received
[ php  javascript  node  ]