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Appro HF1 Takes Overclocking to Wall Street

High Frequency Trading reportedly accounts for over 70 percent of equity trades taking place in the US, and is rapidly growing in popularity in Europe and Asia. So when Appro’s Wall Street customers approached the company about building an overclocked, high frequency system, the company went to work on an all-new kind of product.

The Appro HF1 High Frequency server is an overclocked, 3U rack mount system that uses liquid-cooling to maintain a stable thermal operation. With dual Westmere Intel Xeon X5680 processors overclocked up to 4.4GHz, this screamer of a server has 211GF of peak performance. Memory is overclocked as well, and the system offers up to 48GB of memory operating up to 1440MHz.

Overclocking has long been used by gamers to get the very highest performance possible out of their PCs, but it is not something you would normally see in the enterprise. By running the processors at high-than-spec frequencies, essentially you are forcing the processor do something it was not designed to do. So what about the warranty? I talked with John Lee, Appro’s VP of Advanced Technology Solutions, to find out more.

“This product was made specifically for high-frequency traders,” said Lee. “The warranty is not a concern to them because they swap out these systems every six or nine months anyway to get the fastest possible box at any given time.”

“Performance-passionate customers in high frequency trading and financial systems need cutting-edge performance at the boundary of innovation,” said Rajeeb Hazra, general manager of high-performance computing at Intel Corporation. “The Appro HF1 server exemplifies Appro’s innovation in high performance computing systems. By taking full advantage of the smaller, faster and more energy-efficient transistors in our Intel Xeon Processor 5600 series, the Appro HF1 server offers an excellent platform for high-speed processing deployments and lower-latency solutions.”

According to Lee, overclocking makes sense on Wall Street because the ability to do faster trades can be used for competitive advantage. Throwing more cores at the applications used by traders just doesn’t help performance, he said.

Will there be customers from other sectors interested in the HF1? Lee thinks so, but time will tell. But as the tagline for Wall Street says, money never sleeps. And when every microsecond counts, it never blinks either.

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