Accelerating High-Frequency Trading with HPE Apollo 2000 and 25Gb/s Ethernet

Adapters, Big Data, Ethernet, Interconnect, Switches, Uncategorized


The financial services industry (FSI) is facing various challenges these days, including the ongoing data explosion, new regulatory demands, more messages per trade, and increased competition. In a business where profits are directly determined by communications speed and latency, building a high-performance infrastructure that is capable of analyzing a high volume of data is critical. In particular, for high frequency trading applications saving a few microseconds in latency can be worth millions of dollars. Furthermore, in order to maintain a competitive advantage, financial firms must constantly upgrade infrastructure and accelerate data analytics. Given these factors the Trading and Market Data Applications market is one of the most demanding in terms of data center networking requirements, and requires IT managers to incorporate the most advanced networking technologies, supporting ultra-low latency and the highest possible throughput, while maintaining the lowest possible total cost of ownership (TCO).


Figure 1: HPE dual-port 25GbE adapter in both mezzanine (640SFP28) and PCIe card

This week at the HPE Discover 2016 conference, Mellanox announced the availability of new 25/100Gb/s Ethernet solutions for ProLiant and Apollo servers that will reach new levels of networking performance at lower TCO. The announcement includes two dual-port 10/25GbE network interface controllers (NICs): the HPE 10/25Gb/s 2-port 640SFP28 Ethernet Adapter and the HPE 10/25Gb/s 2-port 640FLR-SFP28 Ethernet Adapter. Both are based on the Mellanox Connect-X®-4 Lx 10/25GbE controller.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to take advantage of the higher speed is with VMA Messaging Acceleration Software. VMA is an open source, dynamically-linked user-space Linux library for accelerating mes­saging traffic, and is proven to boost performance of high frequency trading applications. Applications that utilize standard BSD sockets use the library to offload network processing from a server’s CPU. The traffic is passed di­rectly to the NIC from the application user space, bypassing the kernel and IP stack and thereby minimizing context switches, buffer copies, and interrupts. This results in extremely low latency. VMA software runs on both of the new HPE Ethernet 10/25 Gb/s adapters and requires no changes to the applications.


Figure 2: VMA block diagram

Running trading and market data applications over 25GbE and VMA enables the lowest application latency, highest application throughput, and improved scalability compared to other solutions, making Mellanox Ethernet the best interconnect solution for high frequency trading. At the conference, Mellanox and HPE demonstrated its Trade and Match Server solution that is based on the Apollo 2000 platform and that has been designed to minimize system latency and optimized for higher performance, specifically for high-frequency trading operations. HPE has published benchmark results for the Trade and Match Server, connected by ConnectX-4 Lx 25GbE, that demonstrate the competitive advantages that Mellanox’s high-performance interconnect solutions enable.


Figure 3: HPE’s Trade and Match Server, with industry-leading TCP and UDP latencies when connected by ConnectX-4 Lx 25GbE

In another example, HP compares UDP latency under various traffic load scenarios, thereby simulating the consumption of high volume market data feeds like OPRA, where systems are required to maintain low and consistent latency under high volumes of traffic from the feed. Here too, the solution is able to sustain very low latency even under conditions of high message rate.


Figure 4: VMA UDP latency under high message rates (sockperf)

In addition to its higher bandwidth and lower latency, the ConnectX-4 Lx also enables IT managers to leverage Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) offload engines by running the latency-sensitive applications required by trading and market data applications over RoCE (RDMA over Converged Ethernet). RDMA enables the network adapter to transfer data directly from application to application without involving the operating system, thereby eliminating intermediate buffer copies. As such, running over RoCE minimizes the latency and maximizes the messages per second that the infrastructure is capable of providing, both of which are essential for businesses to maintain their competitive advantage in data analysis.

The financial services industry is one of the most demanding in terms of IT networking requirements. Much more data needs to be analyzed in real-time, and every microsecond can translate into mil­lions of dollars of profits or losses. It is therefore crucial to improve system performance with a low latency, high bandwidth connectivity such as Mellanox 25Gb/s Ethernet in order to maintain a sustainable advantage over the competition.

About Motti Beck

Motti Beck is Sr. Director Enterprise Market Development at Mellanox Technologies Inc. Before joining Mellanox Motti was a founder of BindKey Technologies an EDC startup that provided deep submicron semiconductors verification solutions and was acquired by DuPont Photomask and Butterfly Communications a pioneering startup provider of Bluetooth solutions that was acquired by Texas Instrument. Prior to that, he was a Business Unit Director at National Semiconductors. Motti hold B.Sc in computer engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Follow Motti on Twitter: @MottiBeck

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