PHP 5.5 has been released in beta with new features including the integration of the Zend Optimizer+, support for non-scalar iterator keys, and an array_column function.
The inclusion of the Zend Optimizer+, by way of the Zend Opcache extension, is a relatively recent decision. As we reported in February, Zend CTO Zeev Suraski put forward a proposal on the PHP wiki for integrating the Zend Optimizer+ component into the Open Source PHP distribution.
His RFC (request for comments) said that Optimizer+ offers a consistently better performance than its main rival, APC, with improvements of between 5 and 20 per cent in terms of requests per second. Zend Optimizer+ improves the speed of PHP execution through opcode caching. It improves server performance by storing compiled PHP bytecode in shared memory, so when used a second time the code doesn’t have to be read from the disk or compiled.
New features added to PHP 5.5 include support for generators and a new password hashing API. This will enable developers to generate a secure salted password hash using Bcrypt in a single line of code:
A salt is not needed as it will be auto-generated by the API if not present and added as a random component to the password. Using the Bcrypt hash method makes long passwords difficult to crack as it is computationally intensive and requires a lot of memory.
Other improvements in this version include:
support for finally in try/catch blocks
support for list() in foreach
constant array/string dereferencing
support for using empty() on the result of function calls and other expressions