from the March 2010 issue

New device switches traffic In less than 100 billionth of a second

Voltaire Ltd. is hoping to attract the attention of high-frequency trading firms with the launch of a new communications device it claims can switch traffic between servers in less than 100 billionths of a second.

The Chelmsford, Mass., company also says its hybrid switch and network gateway can move traffic between Ethernet-based networks at less than two thousandths of a second.

The speeds should help reduce total trade execution times and other trading firm processes, Voltaire asserts.

The company, which is also headquartered in Ra'anana, Israel, says the combination product is designed to take up only 1.75 vertical inches of data center rack space rather than comparable technology that can take twice as much space. This helps reduce co-location costs.

The Grid Director 4036E combines the power of a 40-Gigabyte InfiniBand switch with a low-latency Ethernet gateway that can bridge traffic to and from Ethernet-based networks and "takes the pain out of bridging from InfiniBand to Ethernet which is a much-needed capability in many high-performance, enterprise IT environments," according to Asaf Somekh, vice president of marketing at Voltaire.

He believes the new product could be a "game-changing solution" for high-frequency trading firms, exchanges and trading venues that use large clusters of computers and need smooth, fast more traffic management between Ethernet-based networks.

The firm is a well known advocate for Infiniband-based switching technology, while some of its competitors -- including Cisco Systems - appear to have focused more energy on promoting purely 10G Ethernet-based switching devices.

Voltaire devices are included in server and blade offerings from firms such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NEC, SGI and Sun Microsystems.

Somekh also pointed out that in financial services, market data feeds typically run multicast traffic over 1 to 10 Gigabit Ethernet which the Grid Director 4036E "significantly accelerates" the transfer of "multicast" traffic coming from an Ethernet network onto an Infiniband network.

Adam Honore, a senior analyst at Aite Group, said that for trading firms that do choose to employ Infiniband technology, the new product is an important development, particularly when using market data products over Ethernet hubs or when aiming to speed up and better integrate networks related to risk management and settlement efforts or anywhere where cross connect capabilities are important.

However, he also pointed out that among trading firms at large - not just high frequency, low latency traders -- there has been far broader interest in purely 10Gigabyte Ethernet technology rather than Infiniband

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report March 2010

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