PHP RFC: Fast Parameter Parsing API


PHP internal functions use zend_parse_parameters() API to receive values of actual parameters into C variables. This function uses scanf() like approach for parameter definition. The number and types of required data defined by a string that contains a list of specifiers (“s” - for string, “l” for long, etc). Unfortunately, this string has to be parsed each time when php calls this function, and this makes significant performance overhead.

For example zend_parse_parameters() takes ~6% of CPU time in serving wordpress home page.

For some really simple function like is_string() or ord() the overhead of zend_parse_parameters() may be about 90%.


We propose an additional fast API for parameter parsing, that should be used for the most useful functions. The API is based on C macros that lead to inlining of optimized code directly into the body of internal function.

We don't propose to remove the existing API, and would suggest to use fast API only for most often used functions to get performance boost.

I'll explain API on the following example:

if (zend_parse_parameters(ZEND_NUM_ARGS() TSRMLS_CC, "al|zb", &input, &offset, &z_length, &preserve_keys) == FAILURE) {

The first code fragment is just taken from PHP_FUNCTION(array_slice), the second is its replacement using new API. The code is actually self explainable.

ZEND_PARSE_PARAMETERS_START() takes two arguments minimal and maximal parameters count.

Z_PARAM_ARRAY() - takes the next argument as array, Z_PARAM_LONG - as long, Z_PARAM_OPTIONAL - tells that the remaining arguments are optional.

The new API covers all possibilities of the existing API. The following table shows the correspondence between old specifiers and new macros.

specifier Fast ZPP API macro args
a Z_PARAM_ARRAY(dest) dest - zval*
A Z_PARAM_ARRAY_OR_OBJECT(dest) dest - zval*
b Z_PARAM_BOOL(dest) dest - zend_bool
C Z_PARAM_CLASS(dest) dest - zend_class_entry*
d Z_PARAM_DOUBLE(dest) dest - double
f Z_PARAM_FUNC(fci, fcc) fci - zend_fcall_info, fcc - zend_fcall_info_cache
h Z_PARAM_ARRAY_HT(dest) dest - HashTable*
H Z_PARAM_ARRAY_OR_OBJECT_HT(dest) dest - HashTable*
l Z_PARAM_LONG(dest) dest - long
L Z_PARAM_STRICT_LONG(dest) dest - long
o Z_PARAM_OBJECT(dest) dest - zval*
O Z_PARAM_OBJECT_OF_CLASS(dest, ce) dest - zval*
p Z_PARAM_PATH(dest, dest_len) dest - char*, dest_len - int
P Z_PARAM_PATH_STR(dest) dest - zend_string*
r Z_PARAM_RESOURCE(dest) dest - zval*
s Z_PARAM_STRING(dest, dest_len) dest - char*, dest_len - int
S Z_PARAM_STR(dest) dest - zend_string*
z Z_PARAM_ZVAL(dest) dest - zval*
Z_PARAM_ZVAL_DEREF(dest) dest - zval*
+ Z_PARAM_VARIADIC('+', dest, num) dest - zval*, num int
* Z_PARAM_VARIADIC('*', dest, num) dest - zval*, num int

The effect of ! and reference modifiers may be achieved using extended version of the same macros e.g. Z_PARAM_ZVAL_EX(dest, check_null, separate).

Performance Evaluation

The following numbers collected for 100 and 1000 requests to wordpress home page.

# of CPU instructions time [sec]
phpng 5,132,181,672 18.90
phpng + fast_zpp 4,901,907,204 18.40

So the proposal provides 4.5% improvement in terms of CPU instructions and 2.5% in terms of time.

The effect of code size increase is negligible. Just ~20KB for ~70 function (that's below 0.1%)

Backward Incompatible Changes

The new API provides exactly the same behavior. Also, we don't propose to remove the old API. So there must not be any compatibility problems.

Proposed PHP Version(s)

This proposal is targeted to php-7


State whether this project requires 50%+1 majority (see voting). The vote is a straight Yes/No vote.

Should PHP 7 have Fast Parameter Parsing API?
Real name Yes No
ajf (ajf)  
bukka (bukka)  
bwoebi (bwoebi)  
dmitry (dmitry)  
guilhermeblanco (guilhermeblanco)  
gwynne (gwynne)  
jedibc (jedibc)  
jgmdev (jgmdev)  
jpauli (jpauli)  
kalle (kalle)  
krakjoe (krakjoe)  
laruence (laruence)  
leigh (leigh)  
levim (levim)  
lstrojny (lstrojny)  
mj (mj)  
patrickallaert (patrickallaert)  
rasmus (rasmus)  
rdlowrey (rdlowrey)  
treffynnon (treffynnon)  
Final result: 19 1
This poll has been closed.

The vote concluded on January 27th.

Patches and Tests

The patch is already included into PHP-7 and wrapped with ifdef/ifndef FAST_ZPP.

rfc/fast_zpp.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/28 01:38 by ajf