About a-team Marketing Services
The leading knowledge platform for the financial technology industry
The leading knowledge platform for the financial technology industry

A-Team Insight Blogs

xCelor Taps Arista Application Switch for FPGA-based Ticker Plant, Pre-Trade Risk

Subscribe to our newsletter

Chicago-based market data feed specialist xCelor is getting set to release ticker plant and pre-trade risk functionality running on Arista Networks’ 7124FX Application Switch. The switch combines a Stratix V FPGA from Altera with a network switch for data processing as close to the network as one can get.

The company is currently testing its Ticker-Plant-in-a-Switch (TPS) product, which receives and normalises raw market data as it is being switched, with end-to-end latency of around 1.5 microseconds. Such an architecture removes the typical requirement for data to pass in and out of network interfaces for processing on a traditional CPU in a server, which generally results in several microseconds of latency.

As well as normalisation, TPS can also filter raw feeds by symbol, so that just data subsets are passed to down range systems, or transmitted via wide area links. In addition to reducing latency, TPS saves on power and rack space, important considerations for co-located systems.

A planned extension to the TPS is Market Data over Microwave (MDoM) functionality, which will use the symbol filtering in the TPS, and add additional compression and additional redundancy for transmission over bandwidth-limited microwave links. The bandwidth saved is used to extend redundancy, and MDoM can arbitrate between microwave and fibre to ensure no lost data. CFN Services is looking to deploy MDoM in its microwave offerings.

Also in the works is a Risk Evaluation Module (REM), a “bump-in-the-wire” solution for the SEC’s 15c3-5 pre-trade risk rule. REM can perform risk checks on Ouch format order messages as they are being directed to an exchange, with exchange-native rejects on breach. This approach allows for ‘plug in’ implementation of REM into existing trading systems.

For both TPS and REM, switching using the FPGA on the 7124FX can be performed faster than the native Fulcrum ASIC chips built into the device, allowing additional logic to be implemented without any great impact on overall latency.

xCelor began life about 18 months ago with a focus on building FPGA-based data feed handlers.  To date, is has rolled out implementations based on PCIe cards, hosting a Xilinx Vertex 6 FPGA. Supported feeds include those from Nasdaq, NYSE Arca, Direct Edge and Bats Global Markets. An implementation for CME data is expected next month. The company is also working to implement Stratix V versions of its PCIe cards, and is looking to reduce processing latency from their current 700 nanoseconds.

Commenting on implementing logic on both Altera and Xilinx FPGAs, xCelor CTO Robert Walker offers: “Both platforms have many similarities but also many differences. If the possibility of later porting is considered at the design stage this can simplify the process significantly. Even so, some things must be rewritten completely to get them to work. The HDL code itself is supported very well by both platforms – so compiling pure hardware code for either platform is no problem at all. However, the IP cores such as Altera’s NIOS II and Xilinx Microblaze processors, their supporting of peripheral devices (memory controllers, timers, networking subsystem) as well as their development environments are completely different.  This means that if your design relies on one or more soft processors it can be a real challenge!”

Walker sees switch-based FPGA processing as an important and useful emerging architecture: “Putting logic on the switch opens the doors for many other applications. Sometimes you know what you want to do in certain circumstances; under certain market conditions. What if we could prime orders on the switch to be triggered when certain market conditions arise? A simple example: ‘Send this buy order when the price of MSFT drops below 30.62’. Imagine if you could program this into the switch: you could go from tick to trade in nanoseconds. This is exciting stuff and it will be reality very soon!”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related content

WEBINAR

Recorded Webinar: Deploying market infrastructure managed services

Traditionally, trading organisations have procured and managed hardware themselves or through a third-party to support data services in a hosted environment – but as large firms look for efficiencies and smaller firms seek external help so they can focus on their core business, a shift in infrastructure ownership is needed. This can be achieved by...

BLOG

Macrobond Launches Live Data Sharing Platform with Aviva Investors

Macroeconomic data and analytics solutions vendor Macrobond has partnered with asset manager Aviva Investors to develop and launch the Macrobond Viewer, a data sharing platform that gives users the ability to share live research across the enterprise. Aviva Investors has already deployed the tool, which allows economists and portfolio managers to share live charts with...

EVENT

Data Management Summit Virtual (Redirected)

The Data Management Summit Virtual brings together the global data management community to share lessons learned, best practice guidance and latest innovations to emerge from the recent crisis. Hear from leading data practitioners and innovators from the UK, US and Europe who will share insights into how they are pushing the boundaries with data to deliver value with flexible but resilient data driven strategies.

GUIDE

Best Practice Client Onboarding

Client onboarding is central to the success of banks, yet it continues to present challenges and the benefits of getting it right are difficult to achieve. The challenges arise from siloed systems, manual processes and poor entity data quality. The potential benefits of successful implementation include excellent client experience, improved client acquisition and loyalty, new business opportunities, reductions in costs, competitive advantage, and confidence in compliance.