Cisco Hits Warp Speed, Replicates Feeds in 50 Nanoseconds
September 19, 2012
Cisco Systems tried to make a leap to the front of the pack in supplying high-speed switches to trading firms and exchanges, combining thrusts in five areas of technology to push speeds for certain applications under 100 billionths of a second and provide analytics along the way.
The new series of switches, its Series 3548 model line, operate in normal mode at 250 nanoseconds,for taking in, processing and forwarding trading information. In a “warp mode,’’ the system cuts the time to 190 nanoseconds, according to chief technology officer Paul Perez. And when a “warp span” is applied to the network involved, specialized applications such as replicating a feed of market data can be cut to 50 nanoseconds.
The company focused on bringing new technology and products to bear in lowering latency in processing data, handling ‘microbursts’ of orders, adding high-performance features such as translating data for fast transmission on networks, programmability of the system itself and one-nanosecond time stamping of each packet of data that comes into a switch, according to a presentation by Perez at the High Performance Computing on Wall Street conference in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York Wednesday.
Such combinations, Cisco hopes, play to its strength in providing networking gear. "The network is going to be the center of almost all innovation," chief executive John Chambers said, in a televised introduction to what it calls its AlgoBoost technologies.
"Your job is to capture alpha,’’ said Perez to an audience of software, hardware and systems developers for trading firms. “My job is to capture innovation. And I believe we are now innovating inside the rate of innovation of our competitors.''
The Warp Span technology allows data to bypass the heart of networks, a process Perez called ‘’cardiac bypass,’’ and find an available port on a server or switch to which the data can be sent directly.
The switch series also includes a “hitless’’ process for translating network addresses, so algorithmically driven trades can be sent to any venue without a delay.
Custom chips Cisco has designed also allow firms to analyze how a switch is performing while in production to help trading firms adjust and discover prices faster, speed or change order flow and manage regulatory requriements.
Some analytical capabilities are also encoded into the chips. Snapshots of packets in the switch’s memory buffer can create histograms that show, for instance, what is happening in a microburst, by the millisecond. Trading firms then can adjust their infrastructure to react to future microbursts, more adroitly.