This headline caught my attention today:
Vhayu Introduces Hardware Compression for Its Tick Database
Combining Vhayu Velocity with an FPGA, Squeezer compresses data by a factor of four with no performance penalty, says the vendor.
My first thoughts on seeing that headline were:
- Is there really such a large database on ticks that hardware compression is required?
- Would somebody actually call such a tool, “Squeezer”?
- Is this April 1st?
On further reading, however, I realized that “tick” means “ticker”, as in market trading data.
In fact, feed handling is a domain in which FPGAs are starting to gain significant traction. It’s all about getting the lowest possible latency: data comes directly into the system from a market feed source, and a hardware-based algorithm makes a split-second trading decision based on observed patterns. A sudden downturn in the price on key indicator stocks, for example. Or a spiking in oil prices, or a drop in the Brazilian Real, or whatever.
The trading house, hedge fund or bank that sees the pattern and reacts first is that one that wins. And so it’s a latency war out there. FPGAs represent one solution to the latency problem, and have been deployed in numerous trading-related market data appliances.
I like this quote attributed to Jeff Hudson, Vhayu CEO:
“It’s a hybrid software/hardware world we’re entering now, and those companies that embrace it will prosper and those that don’t will fall way behind.”