Weighing the Benefits: Hardware Vs Software

In the pursuit of new ways to eliminate latency from the market data distribution and trading processes, vendors have invested in hardware-acceleration technologies, such as FPGAs. But with commodity chips now giving specialist hardware a run for its money, has that investment been wasted, or does each still have a role to play?

For the past 15 years, trading firms have poured money into the race for zero latency, investing millions in low-latency fiber routes, wireless connectivity, direct exchange datafeeds, and components of trading architectures that promise incremental improvements in processing time. One of these has been the introduction of hardware acceleration for certain parts of a rapid market data workflow, such as field-programmable gate array (FPGA) processors that speed up processing time for repetitive

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