IBM prototype system blasts through trading transactions

Not sure Wall Street needs any help burning through our economic stimulus money but IBM this week showed off a supercomputing/financial software package it says runs 21 times faster than any current trading systems.

The system is made up of IBM's Blue Gene/P supercomputer and software from its research lab called InfoSphere Streams to rapidly, capture, process financial transactions, IBM stated. Traditional business intelligence approaches -- which rely on capturing, organizing and then querying a fixed snapshot of data -- can no longer keep pace, IBM said.

In testing, the system was found to be capable of handling data at 21 times the speed of Options Price Reporting Authority (OPRA), the world's single largest market data feed, while maintaining ultra low end-to-end latencies.

The key is InfoStreams, IBM says because it can gather, crunch and interpret data in real time, whether it originates from sensors, cameras, news feeds, stock tickers, or a variety of other sources, including traditional databases.

In a white paper on the new system IBM says in "traditional" processing, one can think of running queries against relatively static data: for instance, "list all personnel residing within 50 miles of New Orleans," which will result in a single result set. With stream computing, one can execute a process similar to a "continuous query" that identifies personnel who are currently within 50 miles of New Orleans, but get continuous, updated results as location information from GPS data is refreshed over time. In the first case,

questions are asked of static data, in the second case, data is continuously evaluated by static questions. The InfoStreams system goes further by letting the continuous queries be modified over time.

Exchange data rates challenge financial firms trading systems to process up to two million messages per second. The goal of any automated trading systems is to reduce the time between the receipt of market data messages and the decision, achieving a very low latency while processing extreme amounts of data. The more messages a system can process, the more decisions can be made; hence, the more valuable the system.

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