Published On: Sun, Dec 8th, 2013

Introducing First Ultra-low Latency Intelligent Switch

Dr Dave Snowdon, co-Chief Technology Officer, Metamako

Dr Dave Snowdon, co-Chief Technology Officer, Metamako

Australian-based Metamako announced December 4 the launch of its first product, MetaConnect, an ultra-low latency switch, at the Securities Technology Analysis Centre (STAC) Summit in London. MetaConnect is up to 100 times faster than traditional packet switches and includes a number of features not previously found on devices of this kind. Dr Dave Snowdon, co-Chief Technology Officer at Metamako, said, “MetaConnect literally takes switch technology to the next level.”

MetaConnect is unique in combining ultra-low-latency performance of less than four nanoseconds with high levels of monitoring functionality normally only found on much slower devices. It also provides management statistics and network monitoring with no impact on network latency, improves signal quality and saves rack space. Dr Snowdon adds, “This allows traders, brokers and exchanges to monitor the switch and quality of the data in real time without introducing a latency speed hump.” MetaConnect is currently in production with traders, who have performed latency, reliability and error rate testing as part of their due diligence. They have ordered more devices.

Dr Dave Snowdon said, “There is a clear need in the financial markets for a device which, by simplifying critical network infrastructure, dramatically reduces latency. Ultimately, the markets need a performance edge with reliability and simplicity. It is widely thought that many financial institutions have done everything possible to reduce latency, but MetaConnect offers a significant speed edge whilst giving traders, brokers and exchanges additional functionality only found in higher level, slower devices.” Snowdon adds: “MetaConnect has a consistent latency of less than four nanoseconds, compared to a couple of hundred nanoseconds for traditional switches. Where network engineers would have been hesitant to introduce an additional network hop for manageability, compliance, monitoring or signal regeneration, they can now do so with virtually no performance impact. We listened to the market and engineered new levels of performance into a single, fast device.”

MetaConnect allows users to replace a significant number of devices in their server rack: patch panels, taps, signal regenerators, media converters and switches, with a single intelligent box which has negligible latency. Each of these devices introduces latency overheads, possible points of failure and ties up valuable rack space (not to mention cost).

The key features of MetaConnect include:
• Exceptionally low latency of less than four nanoseconds;
• Packet statistics for diagnostics and troubleshooting, for example for monitoring market data;
• Patch panel functionality allows ‘rewiring’ to be done remotely;
• Media converter for different networks and types of wire, for example optical fibre to copper;
• Network taps for splitting signals such as market data, without introducing additional latency or compromising signal quality.
Charles Thomas, co-Chief Technology Officer, said, “Physical layer devices are the fastest of all switches, but they’re usually not very smart, unlike MetaConnect which has built-in intelligence — it understands the messages passing through it. That allows it to report comprehensive packet statistics and timestamping with less than four nanoseconds latency measured on the wire or fibre. That’s less delay than a meter of cable.”

MetaConnect has been engineered for latency-sensitive applications such as trading but can be applied to any network. The lightning speed of MetaConnect means that traders, brokers and exchanges can use it to gain a competitive advantage. There is no additional time overhead in using it to broadcast data to many recipients, as a media converter or as the basis of a kill-switch – it still has a latency of under four nanoseconds. Combining MetaConnect switches can deliver immense scale. Two layers of MetaConnect 48’s[1] can broadcast to more than 2,300 users with less than sixteen nanoseconds of latency. MetaConnect reduces costs by combining the functions of many devices in one, including monitoring features that make it easier to manage and troubleshoot network problems while still getting close-to-the-wire speed.

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