Published: January 27, 2020
ArchES Computing Systems is a Toronto-based company, specializing in developing customized computer chips for extremely high-performance applications. Since being incorporated in 2003, they have targeted the finance industry and have consulted for Canadian and USA banks, broker-dealers, and stock exchanges to design and build computer systems specifically for some of their most performance- and latency-sensitive applications. They have developed FinOS, a hardware operating system for Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chips, which facilitates the development and execution of low latency financial applications. They have come to CENGN to complete a Network Applications project to stress test their new network infrastructure that will allow for lower latencies, and faster speeds on next-generation computer networks.
Low Latency Competitive Advantages
Modern financial systems receive and analyze vast amounts of data in real-time to understand continuously changing market conditions to power informed decision making. If a decision is made to buy or to sell a stock, the resulting order must be independently analyzed in a fraction of a second to ensure all regulatory and institutional rules are followed, and to ensure the order is sent to the correct stock exchange. Those stock exchanges must also operate fast enough to keep up with the constant barrage of inbound orders, matching buyers and sellers quickly and efficiently.
To keep up with ever-increasing demands, the finance industry has been a heavy adopter of technology, incorporating the latest innovations from the high-tech sector. Broadly speaking, there are two major types of computer chips in use for running applications: general purpose CPUs, and Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips. CPUs are known for their versatility, whereas ASICs are prized for their performance, at the expense of flexibility. While CPUs can perform arbitrary calculations, ASICs are limited to the role defined by the programmer at the time the chip is manufactured.
FPGAs straddle the boundary between the two technologies, combining the flexibility of CPUs with the performance characteristics of ASICs. Applications developed for FPGAs can run up to 100x faster than they do on traditional servers, and the code on the chips can easily be updated to handle future changes. In cases where performance is critical, FPGAs can be plugged directly into highspeed data networks, allowing them to communicate directly with external systems, eliminating the need for traditional servers entirely.
Empowering Businesses with High Performance Applications
To bring the performance of FPGAs to the financial industry, ArchES has developed FinOS, a FPGA-based operating system that is used to facilitate the development and execution of extremely low-latency financial applications. FinOS provides high-performance hardware components for handling market data, generating and routing orders to stock exchanges, real-time risk evaluation, and database connectivity.
ArchES has leveraged the best-practices from the software development field into FinOS, allowing the development of FPGA applications in timeframes typically associated with software development. FinOS allows in-house and third-party developers to contribute to high-performance hardware designs using familiar high-level programming languages such as C/C++.
Preparing for Market Growth
To support future high-performance applications, ArchES is developing new networking infrastructure for FinOS. These components will allow FinOS designs to communicate with tens of thousands of remote computers over UDP and TCP networks at speeds up to 100Gb/s with latencies in the 10’s of nanoseconds.
ArchES has come to CENGN to leverage CENGN’s services to validate and stress test their network stack, so they can make an informed product launch.
Stress Testing on CENGN’s Infrastructure
For this project, ArchES has been provisioned with bare metal resources on the CENGN infrastructure. These bare metals will be acting as traffic generators that will be used to flood the FPGAs with network traffic to ensure the network stacks are able to communicate with external computers in heavily congested networks and also handle any error conditions that may be experienced in real-world environments.
ArchES will be performing stress tests to ensure the 100G network stacks can support the traffic rates that are required for smooth performance. They will also be doing scalability tests to ensure that the network stack can handle multiple transactions at a time, as well as network saturation tests, which will validate that the stack behaves properly when pushed to the physical speed limits of the network. Data from these tests will determine the performance characteristics, in terms of both latency and throughput, of the system.
For ArchES, the ability to carry out testing and verifications on a dedicated testbed is vital to the continued development and marketing of FinOS. With proof of the solution’s effectiveness and robustness, ArchES will be able to approach potential clients with absolute confidence.
One of the main advantages of a CENGN project space is having secure and isolated access to the network stack, which is not a service provided by public cloud providers. CENGN’s cloud solutions engineering team will be advising ArchES throughout the project using their technical expertise on traffic simulation and network architecture, ensuring the project runs smoothly.
CENGN is pleased to give Baysil access to our infrastructure services as they work to complete this project!
Baysil is a growing Canadian business that is using the services at CENGN through the Next Generation Network Program (NGNP). The NGNP is a Government of Ontario program offered through a partnership between CENGN and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) that is providing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Ontario access to the CENGN Testbed. CENGN’s digital infrastructure is connecting SMEs like Baysil to state-of-the-art equipment and network services, which will allow these companies to test and validate their solutions.
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ArchES has completed their CENGN project! Click the button below to learn more about their results