I just heard from Brian Durwood, who is the co-founder of Impulse Accelerated Technologies. As you may recall, Impulse provides a suite of C-to-FPGA tools that are used by national security, financial, defense, and automotive suppliers worldwide to name but a few.
In the case of their financial customers, Impulse provides financial feed and UDP parsing IP, along with training and custom solutions. For example, Impulse C tools are used by hedge funds to automate their network connected trading systems.
This particular announcement is primarily of interest to the banking market, and Brian was worried that it may not two "vertical" for the readers of Programmable Logic Designline ... but as far as I'm concerned, if something involves programmable logic then we either want to know about it or we want to know why we don't want to know about it!
One of Impulse's partner companies is Stone Ridge Technology, which employs a team of physicists, computer scientists, and electrical engineers and provides products and services for high-performance computing on heterogeneous platforms. The folks at Stone Ridge market a line of reconfigurable computing systems based on hardware of their own design.
The point is that Impulse and Stone Ridge had the first public demonstration of a customizable NASDAQ ITCH message parsing system built on the Stone Ridge HFT-X FPGA platform. This was demonstrated at the Flagg HPC Financial Markets meeting in New York on Monday 20 September 2010.
The Stone Ridge platform processes market data like a customized Network Interface Card, maintaining an order spread for an arbitrary number of equities. The system pushes order information to the network every second on receipt of the ITCH heartbeat to measure and compare latency directly with a CPU equivalent. The demonstration graphically shows the lower deterministic latency of the FPGA system versus the higher variable latency on the CPU. The system employs Impulse C's Co-Developer compiler to allow C programmability.
Financial organizations strive for microsecond advantages over their competition. With the HFT-X system, Stone Ridge has put "Trigger-to-Trade" capability into the FPGA and bypassed CPU processing entirely. The advantages of FPGAs are extremely low and highly deterministic latency systems that can operate at line-rate speeds. In practical terms this means traders can be confident they are getting the same latency on every trade regardless of market conditions. Variability is greatly reduced on FPGAs since hardware based parsing does not utilize an OS and is not subject to periodic interruption by other system processes. Hardware without an OS has significantly greater parsing capacity.
"FPGAs are ideal for network processing. They can operate at line rates with extremely low and deterministic latency. One of the most disconcerting situations for traders occurs when their systems get overwhelmed in market surges. The HFT-X can process data as fast as it can be sent on Ethernet and turns it around with completely deterministic latency measured in a few micro-seconds."
commented Vincent Natoli, President of Stone Ridge Technology. Natoli continued "The partnership with ImpulseC provides a path for C programmability which we think will be very attractive to our clients in the Financial sector".
"Network-connected hardware-based parsing offers disruptive, compelling infrastructure changes for financial trading organizations"
continued David Buechner Vice President of Impulse Accelerated Technologies.
The Stone Ridge/Impulse collaboration is an example of hardware/software co-design where computational resources are optimized for the software problem being addressed. System teams can contact Stone Ridge and Impulse to evaluate this high-throughput, high-data integrity solution for their specific trading applications.