In the financial sector, high frequency trading (HFT) is one of the most demanding areas of IT performance. This ultra-fast trading strategy uses complex algorithms where every nanosecond matters and even the slightest amount of additional network latency could cost businesses millions of dollars.

With networking challenges lurking around every corner (and across the enterprise), it’s critical for HFT organizations to eliminate potential network latencies from the start, by employing advanced, next-generation network platforms that leverage intent-based logic, ultra-low latency (ULL), high availability, and ease of management.

With this in mind, Cisco recently acquired Exablaze (designer and manufacturer of advanced next-generation ULL solutions) and its field-programmable gate array-based (FPGA) network products, along with its technology, and engineering staff. Cisco’s goal: deliver a secure, simple-to-manage, ultra-high performance, ultra-low latency switching and NIC environment to complement its existing portfolio of ULL solutions and switching technology.

Clearly, this technology infusion will enable a next-generation platform and enhance Cisco’s solid domain expertise in the financial sector, playing a vital role in developing an innovative Nexus portfolio for ultra-low latency applications like HFT. However, Cisco will also continue to integrate the ultra-low latency (ULL) technology developed in those demanding proving grounds and its intent-based logic into other areas such as high performance computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).

Cisco’s Nexus 3550 Series and Nexus SmartNIC portfolio will offer the lowest latency, including just 5 nanoseconds (ns) for layer 1 feed broadcasting and only 95 ns for layer 2 switching. It will provide high-precision time stamping with 70 picoseconds (ps) resolution. Algorithms can be deployed on FPGA-based SmartNICs, pushing decision making closer to the exchange and further reducing latency. Armed with precise timing and clock synchronization capabilities to support mission-critical network applications, organizations are able to build highly secure ULL networks (eliminating costly congestion and packet collisions over non-IP circuitry), while accelerating time to value.

Cisco is now very well equipped to address the growing demand for performance-optimized, ULL networking leveraging intent-based logic, next-generation switching platforms, and smart network interface cards in the HFT market. Cisco, by integrating Exablaze technology into the Nexus portfolio and continuing to expand upon existing roadmaps, has the potential to expand the boundaries of this technology to empower other highly demanding environments, such as 5G and AI/ML environments, enabling organizations to achieve and maintain a competitive edge with a next-generation ULL network platform.


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Bob Laliberte

Senior Analyst and Practice Director

ESG Global