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NovaSparks Adds NovaLink to Provide FPGA to FPGA Tick to Trade Link

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NovaSparks has added NovaLink to its portfolio of field programmable gate array (FPGA) solutions, creating an FPGA-to-FPGA tick to trade link that allows trading firms to receive NovaSparks ticker plant market data directly into their FPGA trading systems.

NovaLink avoids the need for market data to be consumed by data server software and distributed using either PCIe or Ethernet Multicast links and instead allows data to be consumed through an application programming interface running on an FPGA and including a normalised interface.

Using NovaLink, trading firms can offload feed handler functions from their algo strategy and order entry FPGA chips to the NovaTick ticker plant, giving them more space on their FPGAs to implement large scale trading strategies that won’t otherwise fit on a single chip.

Olivier Baetz, chief operating officer at NovaSparks, explains: “Many trading firms put market data, their algo strategy and order entry on one FPGA. As there is very little room on an FPGA, this means compromises must be made, perhaps there will be only one market data feed on the chip, a simple strategy or limited order entry. Using NovaLink to offload market data feed handlers to other FPGAs in NovaTick leaves room for trading firms to implement more sophisticated strategies that can consume thousands of instruments across many markets and asset classes.”

Baetz acknowledges that the use of two FPGAs includes an extra hop and means the NovaTick and NovaLink solution may not necessarily be the fastest, but says it is still very fast and suggests traders wanting to implement sophisticated strategies will find it interesting. In terms of speed and measuring from the wire on the market side to the trading firms’ FPGA, average latency using NovaLink is 1 microsecond for order based feeds like Nasdaq Total ITCH, and 750 nanoseconds for level based feeds like Chicago Mercantile Exchange MDP3.

A couple of NovaSparks customers are beta testing NovaLink, which is available immediately and is expected to find favour among high frequency and other speed traders. Baetz says: “While a number of vendors sell individual components of ticker systems that must be assembled to develop trading strategies, NovaSparks offers a turnkey ticker platform that is dedicated to market data, includes a fully featured feed handler and is based on FPGAs. It doesn’t require developer work and allows trading firms to avoid the expense of developing and maintaining feed handlers.”

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