Seems worth it.
The first transatlantic cable to be laid in 10 years will not carry voice or Internet data. Instead, the line from New York to London will beam financial data to money marketers and hedge fund traders. And thanks to a shorter route than its competitors, the fiber optic cable will transmit information across the Atlantic 5 milliseconds faster….
The reason 5 milliseconds matters—and why beating that time lag could mean so much to a financial firm’s bottom line—is that high-frequency traders now automate many of their trades. Algorithms automatically execute sales and purchases based on triggers in financial data. Every trader has his or her own investment strategies, but the software often uses the same data. And as always in the world of trading, the first orders on the books are the first ones executed. With computers racing each other, a millisecond can place an order at the head of the line, before prices change as more algorithms place similar orders.
Here’s an interesting article from Wired a few months ago detailing why chip maker ARM may be ready to make a run at Intel in terms of network equipment inside a data center…
Researchers at HP, chipmaker ARM, and Facebook have dreamt up a new breed of server processor specifically designed to provide quick and efficient access to information on the web’s most popular services.
In a paper due to be published next month, the researchers propose a chip that’s custom-built to run Memcached, a popular open source software platform that lets services like Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia speed the delivery of data to the world’s web surfers. In building this chip, you would start with a low-power processor not unlike the one in your cell phone, but then you would add hardware that could help Memcached zip information across a data center network.
It’s an intriguing design, but more importantly, it provides a glimpse into how server chips are likely to change over the coming years — and how this will effect the competitive landscape among chipmakers. Today, Intel owns this market because it makes inexpensive general-purpose processors that run extremely fast. ARM’s chips aren’t as powerful, but the company has something else going for it. ARM licenses its designs to a wide range of chip makers who can then modify them and build all sorts of specialized gear — gear like the system-on-chip proposed in this new paper.
While this appears to be the work of a lone manufacturer (instead of an industry standard), Intel is the 900 pound gorilla, especially when some key customers like Facebook commit to using it.
Intel hopes to make computing far more efficient by introducing a technology that replaces conventional copper data cables with faster optical data links. The breakthrough required Intel to fit lasers and other optical components onto silicon chips, which usually deal only with electronic signals.The initial version of what Intel calls its silicon photonics technology can transmit data at speeds of 100 gigabits per second along a cable approximately five millimeters in diameter. Intel will offer it for use connecting servers inside data centers, where it can take the place of PCI-E data cables that carry data at up to eight gigabits per second and networking cables that reach 40 gigabits per second at best….
…The current form of the technology was shaped by feedback from companies including Facebook, Microsoft, and cloud hosting company Rackspace, some of which have committed to using the technology, says Paniccia.
HDMI Forum, Inc., a non-profit, mutual benefit corporation, today announced the release of Version 2.0 of the HDMI Specification. This latest HDMI Specification, the first to be developed by the HDMI Forum, offers a significant increase in bandwidth up to 18Gbps to support new features such as 4K@50/60 2160p, which is 4 times the clarity of 1080p/60 video resolution; 32 audio channels; as well as dynamic auto lip-sync and extensions to CEC.
Ordinarily optical switches respond at rate of a few picoseconds – around a trillionth of a second. Through this study physicists have observed the response rate of an optical switch using ‘few layer graphene’ to be around one hundred femtoseconds – nearly a hundred times quicker than current materials.
Graphene is just one atom thick, but remarkably strong. Scientists have suggested that it would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil to break through a single sheet. Already dubbed a miracle material due to its strength, lightness, flexibility, conductivity and low cost, it could now enter the market to dramatically improve telecommunications.
Image via Flickr user CORE-materials