Speed up Composer Using HHVM

I’m one of guy who is not satisfied with composer speed. That’s why I’m looking for a viable solution to speed up composer until I found HHVM made by Facebook. It is an open-source virtual machine designed for executing programs written in PHP. HHVM stands for HipHop Virtual Machine.

Install HHVM on OSX

HHVM can be installed using Homebrew. Please execute commands below in terminal

$ brew tap hhvm/hhvm
$ brew install hhvm

Grab a coffee, the build process really takes time :)

Install HHVM on Linux (Ubuntu 14.04)

It is great that Facebook provides prebuilt HHVM package.

$ sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
$ sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 0x5a16e7281be7a449
$ sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://dl.hhvm.com/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc) main"
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install hhvm

Configure Composer with HHVM

You need to know the path of composer you installed by execute command below

$ which composer

Then we can add HHVM to composer command like below

$ hhvm your-composer-path

mine is

$ hhvm /usr/local/bin/composer

To make it simpler for future use, we can create an alias for it.

$ echo "alias composer='hhvm /usr/local/bin/composer'" >> ~/.bashrc

So your ordinary composer command is handled by HHVM.


To do the benchmark, I created a project with some packages defined. Then I measured the time between pure composer and hhvm+composer. I tested three times of composer install command.

Here is the command that I used for pure composer

time composer install

and for HHVM+composer

time hhvm /usr/local/bin/composer install

time is used to measure execution time. And here is the result


composer install 127.35s user 9.33s system 19% cpu 11:59.18 total
hhvm /usr/local/bin/composer install 34.13s user 5.01s system 21% cpu 3:02.24 total


composer install 117.94s user 4.21s system 83% cpu 2:26.25 total
hhvm /usr/local/bin/composer install 37.25s user 4.89s system 79% cpu 53.211 total


composer install 133.23s user 6.00s system 81% cpu 2:49.83 total
hhvm /usr/local/bin/composer install 38.32s user 5.52s system 68% cpu 1:04.25 total

From the result above, we can see that the HHVM can really boost up the composer speed about 26 – 31%.


  • Febri Pratama

    is it possible to be implemented on aws elastic beanstalk?

    • deerawan

      I’m not quite sure, probably it is possible

  • Kevin Kibue Kariuki

    Is HHVM a viable solution to for yii application. I have been looking and reading about it, though am skeptical about it. Facebook did a pretty good job for the php community. Also do you have a good lead to how to setting up HHVM with Yii2.