Unlike most PHP frameworks, Phalcon is implemented as an extension written in C in order to optimize performance. This is intended to boost execution speed and reduce resource usage with the goal of handling more requests per second than comparable frameworks written primarily in PHP. One drawback of this approach is that root/administrative access is required on the server in order to install Phalcon by building a custom binary or using a precompiled one.
Phalcon was created by Andres Gutierrez and collaborators looking for a new approach to traditional web application frameworks written in PHP. The original intention was to use "Spark" as the name, but the combination of words "PHP" and "Falcon" (which is one of fastest animals) ended as the name of the framework. Phalcon's initial release was made available on November 14, 2012.
Phalcon 0.3.5 includes an ORM written in C, MVC components, and cache components. This release was followed by the Phalcon 0.5.0 that brought a high-level dialect of SQL called PHQL, and Phalcon 0.6.0 that introduced Volt, a template engine similar to Jinja. Phalcon 1.0 was released on March 21, 2013.