The quest for greater speed and lower latency trading in the financial services sector is set for a major boost due to a new initiative from Intel Solution Services, the Intel Low Latency Trading lab.
Using non-proprietary, standards-based technologies is already known to reduce maintenance and integration costs. However, solutions architects at Intel's Low Latency Lab in London, have shown that optimising financial messaging for Intel platform technologies such as Intel I/O Acceleration Technology 2 (Intel I/OAT2) is also capable of delivering greater trading performance on major financial messaging technologies including Options Price Reporting Authority (OPRA) feed, Financial Information eXchange (FIX) Protocol Limited's FAST data compression and the Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) protocol over TCP/IP for message transport.
Tests were conducted with Pantor Engineering for market data expertise, Cohesive FT's Elastic Servers running a RabbitMQ AMQP cluster, Redhat RHEL5, Endace time-stamping latency measurement tools on the latest Intel quad-core server platforms including a 16-core Intel Xeon Processor 7300 series based machine, as well as an 8-core machine based on Intel's newly released Intel Xeon Processor 5400 series.
Using industry standard hardware, an OPRA feed input rate of 1.3million messages per second was distributed and replicated to four concurrent subscribers, via an AMQP 0-8 compliant broker cluster running on a single Intel Xeon Processor 7300 based server, with measured mean latency below 1.5ms,. Intel I/OAT2 interrupt throttle settings gave a circa 5% uplift to performance, with minor effect on CPU load. *
Since the April 2007 launch of Intel's Low Latency Lab, there has been a growing interest in investigating the contribution that the low layers of the infrastructure can make to faster trading performance. This has been seen in industry debate around performance figures, measurement and benchmarking in which Intel is active - collaborating with the ground breaking innovation brought to the market by firms such as STAC Research.
Companies visiting the lab test the effect of the combination of application tuning and inffrastructure engineering - providing a complete view of the contributing elements to an optimised architecture. In the trading context, these tests can be applied to solutions across the trade cycle, from buy side to execution venue - wherever performance and or application efficiency is an issue for either trading volumes or the increasing focus on reducing energy consumption.
Nigel Woodward, Intel's UK director of financial services said "we believe that the role of the technology infrastructure in achieving optimum application performance is now critical. The lab gives companies the ability to test the many and varied components that make up the infrastructure in order to ascertain which areas will give the best ROI in terms of operational improvement."
Anders Furuhed CTO Pantor Engineering "The linear scaling we have seen from Clovertown on our derivatives messaging applications is very impressive. The combined Intel/Red Hat architecture gives our clients the performance needed for high volume, low latency market data distribution and high velocity automated trading."
Alexis Richardson MD, Business Development Cohesive FT "the Low Latency Lab enables us to access the latest infrastructure technologies and to leverage Intel's strong partner relationships. Together we are demonstrating that a new class of simpler "ready to run" solutions is emerging that make previously complicated and expensive functionality affordable and available to the general market. We proved the viability of our approach to OPRA using an open standards based stack, and now look forward to the next phase of testing which will include 45Nm technology and more focus on runtime management and rapid deployment, by virtualising the workloads - important functions where we see Intel's infrastructure expertise adding value."
Nigel Woodward added "Speed, cost reduction, management of risk and operational compliance with new regulations such as MiFID are key objectives for front office technology. Technology choice is now complex and we recognise the huge leap of faith many financial institutions take when they develop new infrastructures and that's exactly the reason why we set up this lab to support the financial services community - bringing an enabling service to both buyer and seller."
The Lab is equipped with the very latest hardware and software which form the trading solution 'stack'. It also provides a range of performance-oriented software and acceleration technologies - from Intel's own tools and specialist processor cards to compute and data grids, application servers and high-speed interconnects - that allow testing of a wide range of technology permutations. Companies using the Lab can also take advantage of Intel's Financial Services Partner Program which gives access to software which has been optimised on IA. As part of the service portfolio of Intel's Software Solutions Group, the Low Latency Lab has access to the latest RandD researching network performance, and the affect that silicon based acceleration technologies can have on such infrastructure functions supporting market data and message transport. The result can be a highly-tuned solution that is thoroughly tested before it is rolled out to the trading floor
* Intel's VTune performance analyser was used to monitor the respective contribution of tuning different components in the infrastructure - identifying which area provided the most incremental improvement to performance throughput and latency.