Network hardware maker Arista Networks this week released a new switch offering features to help electronic trading companies accelerate the performance of their ultra-low latency networks.
The Arista Application Switch is being touted as the first in a new category of switches, enabling customers to run their own applications directly inside the network. Use case examples for the new switch include equity trading systems, inline risk analysis, market data feed normalization, deep packet inspection, intelligence, and advanced security.
"An order of magnitude improvement in latency is a game changer for our financial customers and is the result of allowing transparent insertion of custom applications into the data stream," said Andreas Bechtolsheim, Arista’s Chairman and Chief Development Officer. "We achieved this amazing acceleration by combining our award-winning ultra-low latency switching technology with a fully user programmable data and control plane based on the latest FPGA technology, resulting in sub-microsecond latency application processing at a speed of up to 240 million packets per second."
An FPGA (field-programmable gate array) is a semiconductor device that can be programmed after manufacturing, allowing for greater customization by end users. The 7124SX the new Arista 7124FX is a data center class 10 GbE switch that supports standard network protocols via Arista EOS (Extensible Operating System), as well as application acceleration. Custom applications can be integrated into the Arista Application Switch by working with Arista partners, embedded system developers Enyx and Impulse C.
Application customization is prized in the world of high-frequency trading, where performance improvements measured in microseconds can alter the profitability of a trading strategy.
"Networking over the past two decades has mostly been about raw connectivity," writes Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal on her blog. "Rarely have applications been tuned and optimized to truly take advantage of the network. People have been talking about this vision for years but few have gone much beyond just talking."
Early reviews by analysts tracking the networking sector are positive.
"This is the most cogent application integration into a network architecture I've ever seen," said Nick Lippis industry analyst and publisher of the Lippis Report. "Arista's Application Switch is an impressive example of integration with purpose and a clear focus on customers who value application acceleration within the data path.”
The new application switch will be generally available in the second quarter of 2012. Here's a video overview of the new hardware from Bechtolsheim:
DCK Editor Rich Miller contributed to this report.