XCache: My PHP Opcode Cache and Datastore in Shining Armour

I recently mentioned using APC with threaded Apache and PHP was incredibly unstable. For a few days I moved back to the prefork (process-based) Apache MPM to see if it was worth bringing back APC. This eventually ended up bringing the load average on the SQL VM to about 40 with what I would normally consider an appropriate number of MaxClients and the odd spike at about 10 when restricted to 128. Page load time was also noticeably increased so I decided to give XCache a whirl (thanks to LiteStar mentioning it in the comments of that article).

XCache is a stable, and (so far it seems) genuinely thread-safe opcode cache and datastore. It is developed my mOo, a lighttpd developer and hosted under the lighttpd domain. Depsite this, it is built as a PHP extension in the same manner as APC meaning it can be used with mod_php, fastcgi etc. Like APC, XCache features shared memory variable storage functions with a simple name, value scheme in addition to the opcode cache. I was able to quickly write an SQL wrapper using these that reduced the database hits in one of my apps by a factor of about 10,000 - making virtually the whole thing run out of RAM.

Also similarly to APC, XCache comes with bundled admin scripts which - while perhaps not as pretty as APC's - I certainly find more insightful. Some folks find it faster, but I find it works so it looks like I'll be sold for some time.

Cheers, Litey. And cheers, mOo.

UPDATE Or not... After a few weeks of faithful service xcache finally segfaulted on me:

apache2[17395]: segfault at 332e352e ip b5ba90f7 sp a4b4cb70 error 4 in xcache.so[b5b96000+1d000]
apache2[16754]: segfault at 4320526d ip b5ba4297 sp aab5ad60 error 4 in xcache.so[b5b96000+1d000]
apache2[27959]: segfault at 43205445 ip b5ba90f7 sp aab58b70 error 4 in xcache.so[b5b96000+1d000]
apache2[15215]: segfault at 2 ip b5ba90f7 sp a534db70 error 4 in xcache.so[b5b96000+1d000]
apache2[15536]: segfault at 362e3335 ip b5ba90f7 sp ac35bb70 error 4 in xcache.so[b5b96000+1d000]

I'm doing my best at this moment to reproduce the suituation.

UPDATE It turns out this might actually be a bug in PHP. mOo was kind enough to respond in detail:

A PHP 5.3 bug No.62432 ReflectionMethod random corrupt memory on high
concurrent was fixed that cause PHP itself unstable, bogus reported as
XCache bug. It is false positive to reproduce with XCache
loaded/enabled only, just because XCache make PHP run faster than
with/without other opcode cacher. PHP up to 5.3.14 is affected. It is
highly suggested to upgrade to newer PHP

so, upgrade to 5.4 if applicable. upgarde to
http://xcache.lighttpd.net/wiki/Release-2.0.1 if you still have
problem with PHP 5.4 + XCache 1.3.2

Which I actually realized when reading this while he was making his reply https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/xcache/pZHjUu3Dq3k:

PHP 5.3.14 is unstable, Please upgrade to new version. You have been warned I've tried hard to make it stable even in 2.0 big jump, yet anything that can go wrong goes wrong.

Just goes to show I need to do more reading before jumping the gun :p


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