The co-location of market data systems near or inside exchanges is becoming big business. The ultra-low latency high frequency trading systems that you find in these facilities are niche applications to be sure, but what a niche! NYSE Euronext recently committed to build a 400, 000 square foot co-location facility in New Jersey. That’s a big investment to make in something NYSE Euronext CEO Steve Rubinow describes as being for “only the most obsessive traders.”
How obsessive? Architects building these systems measure latency in microseconds, and the best applications exhibit just tens of microseconds of end-to-end latency. Shaving microseconds is like dropping weight before your prize fight weigh-in—whatever it takes, get it down.
To help these latency obsessed traders develop even faster trading systems, Solace has extended its Unified Messaging API to include a shared-memory transport based on inter-process communication (IPC). This capability lets two applications share information using Solace’s API with less than 700 nanoseconds of average latency in a shared memory environment. Yes, I said nano — billionths of a second. Remember the famous Tabb Report on The Value of a Millisecond? There are a million nanoseconds in a millisecond. 700 nanoseconds is a scant seven-tenths of a microsecond.
To be clear, IPC is a highly-specialized technique that only certain systems can leverage because it occurs within the confines of a single server. For example, when the components of a high-frequency trading system (feed handler, algo, risk assessment, order execution) have been consolidated onto a high-powered multi-core server within a collocation facility. Today these applications run on many machines and share data using low latency messaging. Shared memory transport among applications running on a single server eliminates the few microseconds associated with network hops and additional time lags associated with copying memory around between applications. And since IPC is now available as part of the same API customers already use for ultra low latency and other kinds of messaging, applications get the speed they need without giving up the familiar API or the flexibility to redeploy in a networked scenario as needed.
As always, we’re not publishing some mysterious single number with no detail on what it means. A whitepaper describing the environment and parameters of the tests is available for download on our website so customers can dig into the facts and even reproduce the results using their own systems and data. In fact, we did all the testing a quad-core 3GHz Intel Xeon E5450 server because not everyone has the latest Intel Nehalem.
HFT architects have generally been exempt from corporate technology standards because the stakes are so high they can justify whatever makes them faster. With Solace, HFT no longer needs to be an exception. The same messaging API that is speeding up back office and front office networked trading can be used to speed up collocated HFT trading as well.