Mellanox Financial & Trading Solutions

With recent exponential growth in the volume of market data, financial firms were placed under great pressure to maintain efficiency in their electronic trading platforms. Existing systems were stretched to their limits.

Financial services in an environment in which a single millisecond of latency in the execution of trades can translate into millions of dollars in lost profits, so it is critical that the network not create a bottleneck that impedes performance. Success is measured by system performance, latency, jitter, trade execution time, and, ultimately, these factors translate into profit.

Today, as Electronic Trading enters its second decade, the pressure to maintain the lowest latency remains. However, both internal and external sources now also demand transparency, accountability, and control, as hundreds of millions of dollars can also be lost in the same fraction of a second. This means new capabilities, such as time stamping data and monitoring trade acquisitions and statistics, must be built into the heart of any system without impacting latency, jitter and effective scaling.

Mellanox adapters and acceleration software deliver this performance on mainstream open source solutions and offer highly accurate sub-microsecond time synchronization, enabling financial firms to maximize their efficiency and return on investment.

High Performance on Mainstream Platforms

Mellanox is the world’s leading provider of high speed Ethernet solutions, with 10/40GbE adapter cards, and now the first 25/50/100GbE adapter cards, and performanceenhancing messaging accelerator software. Unlike many other solution providers, though, Mellanox is committed to ensuring that its solutions meet the highest standards of interoperability and openness.

Mellanox adapter cards are available and supported by all mainstream OEM server platforms, and are fully interoperable with standard TCP/UDP/IP stacks. They are supported by all mainstream operating systems, including Windows, Linux distributions, Ubuntu, VMware, and Citrix XenServer, without requiring kernel modifications or proprietary drivers. This means that companies can implement trading solutions with their organization’s standard hardware and operating system configurations, saving greatly on capital and operational expenditures, and reducing risk of security breaches.

Furthermore, Mellanox maintains its key software in the open source community, which provides customers the freedom to implement an accelerator product and more easily tailor it to their specific application needs.

Mellanox Adapters

Mellanox offers various adapter cards with exceedingly low latency and its hardware-based RDMA technology is perfect for meeting the needs of the financial services industry.

ConnectX-3 Pro EN with 10/40/56GbE connectivity provides a high performing and flexible interconnect solution for PCI Express Gen3 servers. ConnectX-3 Pro is a proven commodity, with up to 30% lower latency than the competition.

The ConnectX-4 Lx network controller is forward-thinking hardware, with 25/50GbE bandwidth that uses similar infrastructure and power consumption to 10/40GbE solutions, improving return on investment by providing more speed at lower cost per gigabit. This enables companies to sustain a competitive advantage without breaking the bank.

The ConnectX-4 EN provides an unmatched combination of 100Gb/s bandwidth in a single port, the lowest available latency, and specific hardware offloads to further increase performance for high frequency trading platforms. With submicrosecond latency and a capacity of 150 million messages per second, ConnectX-4 EN offers the next generation of connectivity today.

VMA Messaging Acceleration Software

Mellanox’s Messaging Accelerator (VMA) transparently boosts performance for socket-based applications without modification, including the vast majority of software found in the financial services industry. By offloading network processing from the OS, traffic passes directly to the network adapter from the application user space, bypassing the kernel IP stack and minimizing context switches, buffer copies, and interrupts. The result is a reduction in latency by as much as 300% and an increase in application throughput by as much as 200% per server, as compared to applications running on standard Ethernet networks.

VMA is fully compliant with standard socket APIs and Ethernet/IP wire-protocols, making it a completely transparent solution to implement and run, requiring no code changes, and with no concerns about third-party interoperability. The latest versions of VMA have also eliminated the need for any kernel modifications.

VMA provides low latency of 1.5 microseconds for a TCP socket-based application and 1.1 microseconds for UDP. In addition, VMA delivers more than 4 million multicast packets ingress in a single thread.

Highly Accurate Time Synchronization

High frequency trading platforms require reliable and precise time synchronization to avoid millions of dollars in lost transactions. Mellanox adapters provide accurate hardware timestamps to a variety of NTP/ PTP client applications, which in turn guarantee global synchronization across trading platforms. Mellanox adapters support open source PTP clients, such as LinuxPTP and ptpd, but are also well integrated with Timekeeper™ from FSMLabs for the most advanced accuracy and precision.

On Linux, PTP out of the box uses information that the Mellanox adapter provides to factor out packet delay variation caused by buffering, network stacks, and OS scheduling and automatically improves precision of locking the local timer to the reference time.

This assures sub-microsecond time precision from the Precision Time Protocol (PTP), even over shared network links. For high quality links and time feeds, applications can see time locked to reference well within 500 nanoseconds of variation.

Performance Results

Mellanox solutions are proven to be effective at enabling world-leading low latency financial data centers, including the world’s largest stock exchanges, investment banks, and prop traders.

Performance testing has shown Mellanox to have a significant advantage in reducing latency over the competition. Figure 1 shows more than a 30% lower latency when using Mellanox adapters without accelerators.

When accelerator software is introduced, Mellanox VMA maintains a 30% advantage of Solarflare OpenOnload, as seen in Figure 2.

Clearly, Mellanox offers the highest performing solution for latencysensitive applications, such as high frequency trading.

Summary

In the world of electronic trading, solutions must run with the lowest possible latency and jitter to be competitive. Mellanox solutions have been deployed in a large array of investment banks, hedge funds, and exchanges because they provide the highest bandwidth, the lowest latency, and, ultimately, the best return on investment.

Mellanox Ethernet solutions are ideal for the financial services industry, delivering a powerful combination of flexible, high-performing networking hardware and open source messaging acceleration software to meet the low latency and high throughput requirements of high frequency trading environments.

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