Cisco Systems said it has commercially introduced a switch that can route trading messages through its circuitry and back out onto a wire in under one microsecond.

Cisco, whose gear is used by the Nasdaq OMX Group and other exchange operators, said its Nexus 3016 switch can get the last number or letter of a 1,024-character message onto a wire in 1.17 microseconds, or millionths of a second. The last number or letter of a 256-character message makes it onto the wire in 950 nanoseconds, or billionths of a second.

The switch is Cisco’s first in a series that now can move data at the rate of 40 billion bits a second. That is a four-fold leap from the previous standard of 10 billion bits a second.

In 10-gigabit gear, the 1,024-character message would take 2.21 microseconds to pass the first and last character through. That is just more than two millionths of a second – but a measurable delay in electronic markets where traders are constantly looking for microsecond advantages.

“This is extremely relevant to high-frequency trading,’’ said Pramod Srivatsa, product line manager at Cisco.

The Nexus 3000 line is aimed directly at trading firms that send out orders that they expect to fill or cancel in fractions of a second, Cisco said.

In July, Nasdaq OMX Group said it would install Nexus 5000 switches and Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extenders at its high-performance options trading exchange, PHLX.

The exchange operator, which runs the Nasdaq Stock Market, the PSX exchange and other markets, declined to comment on whether it had plans to install the 3000 series at any of its venues. Nasdaq markets execute one out of every 10 transactions, around the world.

The nanosecond speeds are achieved by divvying up trading messages into four parts, sending each simultaneously onto wires that are specially constructed to handle four 10-gigabit streams of data at the same time, said Srivatsa. Each cable has four pairs of ‘send’ and ‘receive’ wires operating at the 10-gigabit per second rate.

The messages subsequently are reassembled and executed.

The parallel operations use a process of “serializing” and “deserializing” the data to achieve the fast throughput, Srivatsa said. Even a gain of 340 nanoseconds “is a significant delta,’’ he said, for high-speed trading.

The Nexus 3000 series also incorporates a system for monitoring where the transmission of data hits bumps. The “dynamic buffering utilization monitor’’ helps firms identify and then remove nanosecond bottlenecks.


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