Trading Stocks in One-Billionth of a Second

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The pace at which the market trades stocks, bonds, currencies, and futures seems to have once again become faster than anyone could have ever imagined.  Forget a few hundred automated trades a second impacting the markets … If all claims are true, trading in the sub-nanosecond barrier is reality.

High Frequency Trading, what is called HFT on Wall Street, is a mystery to most investors.  Its aim is to make money from market inefficiencies via programs that analyze data and which make automated trading decisions that can last for fractions of a second or which can last for a fraction of day.  Any market from currencies, to stocks, to futures and options, and other financial instruments can have heavy amounts of HFT influence.

HFT has been a target of Main Street and Washington D.C. for an obvious reason.  HFT often excludes Joe Public, leaving the typical investor at a huge disadvantage against the professionals.  That’s not the entire story, however. Some successful independent active traders use many tools and tricks of HFT.  If the claims are real, those who can afford it will be able to trade stocks, currencies and other electronic market securities in less than one-billionth of a second.

Yes, under 1/1,000,000,000… This is under the nanosecond barrier and that is what has been claimed by an outfit called Fixnetix.

Demonstrations of the technology are taking place this week at the SIFMA Financial Services Technology Expo 2011 in New York.  The company has announced its iX-eCute, a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) microchip for “ultra-low latency trading” that is called “the world’s fastest trading appliance for the financial markets.”  It says that customers are now seeing latencies as low as 740 nanoseconds through the stack, or wire-to-wire.

The company also noted that this is not just for speed but also for regulatory use.  It claims that 20+ pre-risk checks take less than 100 nano seconds.

Fixnetix claims that iX-eCute has no detrimental impact on trading performance with the necessary risk controls as it enforces pre-market risks at nano-second time frames yet still prevents trade latency.  It noted that ” Unlike other solutions, the iX-eCute microchip has near zero impact on latency for governing the required checks directed by the recent SEC Rule 15c3-5 and anticipated declarations from other regulatory governing bodies.”