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LSE Breaks World Record In Trade Speed With Linux 452

Posted by timothy
from the linus-mentioned-their-startling-speed dept.
LingNoi writes with this excerpt from ComputerWorld UK: "The London Stock Exchange has said its new Linux-based system is delivering world record networking speed, with 126 microsecond trading times. The news comes ahead a major Linux-based switchover in twelve days, during which the open source system will replace Microsoft .Net technology on the group's main stock exchange. The LSE had long been criticised on speed and reliability, grappling with trading speeds of several hundred microseconds. The 126 microsecond speed is 'twice as fast' as its main international competitors, the London Stock Exchange said. BATS Europe and Chi-X, two dedicated electronic rivals to the LSE, are reported to have an average latency of 250 and 175 microseconds respectively. Neither company immediately provided details. But many of the LSE's older and more traditional rivals offer speeds of around 300 to 400 microseconds. Nevertheless, Linux is now standard in many exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange."
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LSE Breaks World Record In Trade Speed With Linux

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  • Linux: 1, MS: -1 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ThePromenader (878501) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:23AM (#34009232) Homepage Journal

    Not so sure that the networking speed is due only to the Linux OS switchover - The LSE obviously updated its hardware too.

    I'd be really be interested in the makeup of the LSE network support - do they rely on their own developers/deployers, or do they have a support deal with Linux?

  • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:23AM (#34009234) Homepage Journal

    Can someone explain to me what the system does in these 126 microsecond? Is it sending packets through the world, doing some complicated calculations, solving locking resources? It seems an awefully long time to add to a table and update some stats.

  • by mpoulton (689851) on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:37AM (#34009292)
    Trading this fast brings the market closer to optimal economic efficiency, where prices at any instant accurately reflect value. Latency contributes to the very inefficiencies that you blame these "large investment firms" from profiting off of. These high-speed arbitrage and "quant" investors may make a profit without creating a product (though collectively their track record is not very good financially), but their profit margins are vanishingly small and they serve a critical role in equalizing prices between markets and keeping prices up to date as market conditions change. In short, your complaint about these trading practices smacks of jealousy and sour grapes, and it ignores the valuable role they serve in the markets.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @02:41AM (#34009310)

    Stock trading should be at least limited to speeds that humans operate at, which is more than one second. Hell, I think that large, industrial companies' stocks could well be traded once a month or so (especially they shouldn't be traded immediatelly after quarterly reports, to prevent idiotic panic reactions). New software companies... Perhaps once a day? Stock trading is supposed to be long term investment based on how the companies are doing, not automized microsecond manipulation.

    That said... Who am I to say that people shouldn't be allowed to throw their money to that stupid system if they so want to do? Rather, we should make the society less dependant on that... So that the next time the market crashes (which it periodically does), it doesn't take the rest of the society down with it.

  • Re:Linux: 1, MS: -1 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Monday October 25, 2010 @03:31AM (#34009490)

    If you call Microsoft fanboys, then sure. Microsoft did a huge ad campaign about how the LSE switched from Linux to Windows, proving that Microsoft was ready for the big time.

  • Planet Money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VValdo (10446) on Monday October 25, 2010 @03:59AM (#34009588)

    Trading this fast brings the market closer to optimal economic efficiency, where prices at any instant accurately reflect value. Latency contributes to the very inefficiencies that you blame these "large investment firms" from profiting off of.

    Let's just relax and listen to this episode of Planet Money on high-frequency trading [npr.org].

    I know. It's NPR. They fired Juan Williams. Whatever. (FWIW: on the Diane Rehm show from Friday, they defend Williams, say there was a "rush to judgement" and say that NPR went "off the handle" [youtube.com]. You'd NEVER see most news employees do that on-air.)

    W

  • by zarlino (985890) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:05AM (#34009608) Homepage

    ping localhost
    PING localhost.localdomain (127.0.0.1) 56(84) bytes of data.
    64 bytes from localhost.localdomain (127.0.0.1): icmp_req=1 ttl=64 time=0.053 ms

  • Re:Linux: 1, MS: -1 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sean Hederman (870482) on Monday October 25, 2010 @04:30AM (#34009704) Homepage

    Okay, well to anyone who's ever had to work with Accenture code, it would tell them a lot.

    I agree wholeheartedly that it has nothing to do with MS vs Linux, I think it has to do with another shoddy Accenture implementation. Even the .NET decision has nothing to do with it IMO, I'm a firm believer that algorithms and design have far more impact than OS or language choice.

    Oh, and calm the hell down. It's a discussion, not a flamewar.

  • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:19AM (#34009850) Homepage Journal

    Anonymous Coward writes:

    It is the time measured from when a bid/ask order is sent from the customer's network port, until it has been processed/stored and possibly matched at the Exchange, and back again.

    ikkonoishi writes:

    Lots of data going in lots of data going out. Millions of people make trades on this thing constantly.

    nacturation writes:

    One eighth of a millisecond is an awfully long time?

    davester666 writes:

    It increases the time delta between when your broker trades the stock up a little, then puts through your trade by selling you the stock he just bought, but for a little more than what he bought it for. Every time.

    lena_10326 writes:

    You do realize this is a stock exchange processing large volumes of transactions requiring a high degree of availability and consistency? Not a ma-and-pop website processing 100 transactions a day. Right?

    Johannes concludes: no one knows what it does. Yet we are stunned of the millions of transactions flowing around.

    The limiting factor can't be throughput/number of transactions, given that the data flow is continuous.
    The closest to an answer is that it is network latency. But why is it relevant to use Linux then? Because the TCP/IP stack is so great? Wouldn't the specs of the network (fibre?) be more interesting?

  • Re:PR Rubbish (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:24AM (#34009874)

    The hardware the LSE used has been updated continuously because of the problems with the windows implementation. They've been adding hardware for years before admitting the windows software was just not adequate (IIRC, the same day they announced they where switching to Linux, they also announced a new hardware upgrade to try to make the windows system suck less in the period between the announce and the switch).

    In fact, the record is probably due to the fact the hardware platform was grossly over-dimentionned during the windows era, and is now more than adequate for the Linux system.

  • Re:Gee (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:05AM (#34010046)

    Well not quite. Dark pools still generate a price after execution. Most non dark order books are anonymous anyway. The main difference is that you don't see the order depth. You put it what you see as a fair price, if it excutes great. The real motivation for Dark pools was to add more stability to execution when large positions needed to be cleared. A large position could skew price. Dark Pools allow you to reduce your exposure risk to a certain extent. However clever alogols these days can sniff this out. And thats when the trouble starts.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:09AM (#34010066)

    Trading this fast brings the market closer to optimal economic efficiency, where prices at any instant accurately reflect value.

    This is fundamentally wrong. The only way to bring the market mathematically closer to the ideal is to speed up time for everybody in the market. But that's certainly not what's going on.

    Only some market participants get to trade at a faster rate in reality, so what this leads to is a bias in the prices which weighs the preferences of those privileged participants more than those of the other, unprivileged, participants.

    Put another way, the asymptotic optimal values computed in a two tiered market where some players can act much more frequently than others are not the asymptotic optimal values computed in a single tiered market where all players can act at the same frequency. It's a fundamental misunderstanding of market dynamics to think otherwise.

  • Re:Light (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Krneki (1192201) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:11AM (#34010072)
    If you don't like the developed world, you can go and live in Africa*, they don't have any stock market there to ruining their life. *troll disclaimer I mean the most underdeveloped African countries,
  • by baegucb (18706) on Monday October 25, 2010 @06:41AM (#34010186)

    WoW client works fine under wine (tad better than under Windows imho).

  • Re:Light (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dintech (998802) on Monday October 25, 2010 @07:34AM (#34010446)

    Co-location. A lot of exchanges will let you put your servers in their building. Then the arguments start about who's network cable is shortest and which router it's on. I'm not joking.

  • Re:THIS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by asc99c (938635) on Monday October 25, 2010 @07:46AM (#34010482) Homepage

    Yet oddly, in the UK at least, there is a tax on actually buying shares, so my long-term investment account has various charges for stamp duty as my money goes in there. The tax is only applied to buying actual shares. It isn't applied when messing around with futures and complex derivatives etc that have caused the problems.

    I think this needs to be exactly the opposite way around. I don't think there should be a tax for dealing in shares, but instead a tax on dealing with various futures products. Not too severe a tax but enough to dissuade this sort of high speed speculation.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Monday October 25, 2010 @08:42AM (#34010736)

    The sort of person you see applying for that and getting it is the sort of person who has testicles so big they cart them around in a wheelbarrow. The sort who you see on The Apprentice and want to punch in the face because they can't stop going on about how wonderful they are.

    Their actual ability may not be even remotely correlated with this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2010 @08:45AM (#34010756)

    Having worked for the Exotics desk in a Derivatives environment I can tell you that the complex instruments they invent are complex in order to dazzle and deceive the customers - the traders simply take advantage of their superior knowledge in that domain to make money out of the clients by charging the client more for something that they don't really need, a bit like some car mechanics convince clients to get new starter engines when what they really need is new spark plugs.

    Most clients could have their needs satisfied with cheap derivatives like futures and options which can be gotten directly from an Exchange, but then the banks wouldn't do quite as much money and the traders wouldn't get millions as bonus.

    More in general, banks make money from "investment" not because they're any better at it than others but because they have a number of structural advantages that others don't:
    - They're big enough to have custom systems done to aggregate information
    - They can borrow cheap money thanks to their government guarantee ("too big to fail") which they then use to "boost the returns" of their own capital by leveraging.
    - They have tiny trading costs since they are registered directly with the exchange and need not pay brokerage costs.
    - They can have their trading systems connected directly to the exchanges.
    - They have their own trading platforms and sell to customers directly Over The Counter.

    In fact I still work for the industry (they pay well and I'm a brain whore) and the amount of wastage I see around me would not possible in an environment with real competition where companies have to fight every day to be and remain profitable.

  • by Americano (920576) on Monday October 25, 2010 @09:08AM (#34010958)

    There is no value to equalizing prices in less than a second,

    You are wrong, of course. They are providing liquidity in the market - which has tremendous value, if you understand how the markets actually work, and don't just assume they're there to funnel money from investors into scammers' pockets.

    Should they not be compensated for providing that liquidity? They make a (small) profit on these trades, in return for providing a ready flow of cash to support other people trying to buy and sell.

  • by schon (31600) on Monday October 25, 2010 @09:11AM (#34011000)

    It's a great server OS, sure, but lets look at this realistically:

    - the Windows / .NET trading system was based on Windows 2003 and SQL 2000, and was deployed in 2005.
    - the Linux-based system is under development now, to be deployed next year.

    You missed

    - the Windows / .NET trading hardware has been upgraded continuously because it was unable to cope with the load.

    Just based on that, you'd expect substantial performance differences from just using newer hardware.

    Sure, except for the part that the both are running on new hardware.

    Chances are that the original kit was certified as a part of the solution, and hasn't been replaced since.

    "Chances are" - except that is 100% wrong. They had problems since day 1, which were blamed on the hardware, so they've been constantly upgrading it trying to fix the problem.

    Even ignoring the hardware and the OS, one would expect 90% of the performance to be determined by the application, not the OS. Decisions like writing the software in .NET versus C or Java, or using a special-purpose Java runtime would make a huge difference, irrespective of the OS.

    The old system was written with the help of MS. They were the ones that said that .NET was the best way to implement it, and they even touted this in their press releases.

    On top of this, the software stack is completely different, and developed by a different team. Just about every design decision, small and large, will be different.

    Of course it's completely different - that's the entire fscking point.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday October 25, 2010 @09:55AM (#34011436) Homepage Journal

    Or perhaps the part where the admins are competent? I took a programming course once, taught by the guy in charge of the Illinois Secretary of State mainframe. He took us on a tour of it, very impressive.

    But most impressive to me was that they have an average of 1/2 hour of outage per year.

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