SiteGround were one of the first web hosting providers to support PHP 7 (including when PHP 7 was in Beta). With SiteGround being the official hosting provider for Joomla! it comes as no surprise that they were pleased to announce that the new version of Joomla! (3.5) now supports PHP 7.
PHP 7 first started development in 2014 and is based on an early branch of PHP named “phpng” meaning PHP Next Generation. The aim of the new version of PHP was to refactor the Zend Engine while retaining almost complete language compatibility with earlier versions. There is sometimes confusion on the PHP version number, as PHP 6 was never released, as this was only ever an experimental version.
PHP 7 is a big step up from PHP 5.6, with initial benchmark tests likening it to the speed of HHVM (Hip Hop Virtual Machine) developed by Facebook, and which SiteGround also offers on their Cloud. There is always likely to be competition between PHP 7 and HHVM, but in reality PHP 7 is likely to be more widespread, especially in the shared hosting environment. HHVM is most likely found with premium managed WordPress Hosting, Cloud or other enterprise solutions, all of which come at considerable extra cost to standard hosting.
While PHP 7 has been released for some time now, it is only since the recent launch of Joomla! 3.5 on the 21st March 2016 that the two were compatible. According to Joomla! implementing PHP 7 can make it at least twice as fast while also using half the memory.
Joomla! 3.5 also has various other improvements, which you can see from the graphic below. There is, therefore, little reason not to update as soon as possible.
It is not just the version of PHP that matters, but how you configure it, and whether you use accompanying technology such as OpCache or Memcached. Fortunately, SiteGround offers both of these technologies; OpCache is available as standard, and Memcached is part of their famous SuperCacher.
Talking about SiteGround and speed related matters wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory mention of HTTP/2, which they launched at the start of 2015, and makes a significant improvement on load times as well.
Implementing PHP 7, OpCache and Memcached is extremely easy at SiteGround and something you can do within about 10 minutes with very little technical knowledge. You can find detailed instructions on how to configure PHP 7 here. By default, OpCache is automatically enabled. To configure Memcached to work with Joomla! you will need to update the configuration file by setting the $cache_handler variable to the following:
To configure Memcached to work with Joomla! you will need to update the configuration file by setting the $cache_handler variable to the following:
public $cache_handler = ‘memcached‘;
We are confident that if you have any issues with this, SiteGround would be more than happy to assist. SiteGround has some of the best web hosting support around, who endeavor to respond to all tickets within just 10 minutes.