Hardwired: FX trading in a chip

When every microsecond counts cutting code into specialised hardware offers real time saving, but has standard chip evolution caught up? Dan Barnes weighs up the benefits of hardware-accelerated appliances for electronic FX trading applications.

If you stub your toe against a wall, you will feel the impact of brickwork one or two seconds before you feel the pain. The reason for this is that there are different nerves to conduct the sensations of touch and pain, each having a different structure. A trader seeing the yuan plummet against the dollar may equally feel pain several seconds after he has registered the changing digits on a screen. To avoid this dislocation of input and reaction time, many traders prefer to employ digital nervous systems that will react almost instantly to such market shifts, whether to generate alpha or to avoid losses. Choosing which components to use when building this circuitry can make a crucial impact on how fast it is.  In a technology stack a firm will have both hardware and software that is used to pass information about. The more components there are, the more time is taken to move information from one part to another, albeit in fractions of a second. Those fractions will count, nevertheless, when trying...continued

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