How Solarflare Optimizes Financial Trading Platforms


Every industry has been transformed by the Internet, and none more so than electronic trading. More than ever, firms need to reliably buy and sell stocks at super fast speeds. This requires a server solution that isn’t just lightning fast, but also reliable, secure, and open to customization. Solarflare has been stepping up to the plate in exciting ways, providing hardware and software options that optimize financial platforms for today’s digital world.

The world’s top trading platforms have turned to Solarflare to optimize their networks with accelerated speed and efficiency combined with ultra-low latency connectivity and enhanced packet processing. Mike Aikins, CTO of Chi-X Australia, Australia’s second largest trading venue, had this to say:  “Solarflare’s technology has become the gold standard for electronic trading innovation.” Chi-X’s recent deployment of Solarflare technology has led to a 28% improvement in latency reduction and market connectivity.

Here are two specific Solarflare technologies that have risen to the unique challenges of today’s trading landscape:

1. Application Onload Engine Server

From its unrivaled architectural flexibility to its lightning fast acceleration capabilities, Solarflare’s second-generation ApplicationOnload Engine(AOE) server adapter is a massive breakthrough in ultra-low latency networking. The AOE is the industry’s only FPGA-integrated 40Gb Ethernet server adapter. By providing world-class adapter hardware, a high-performance Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and a robust firmware development kit (FDK), the AOE allows users to customize applications and tailor on-the-fly performance to specific trading environments. Essentially, the updated AOE improves server utilization by reducing CPU, memory, and I/O load—all of which increases the efficiency of processing cycles.

2. Capture SolarSystem

Capture SolarSystem (CSS) is a breakthrough cost effective, distributed, flexible, and openly architected packet capture platform. CSS enables packet capture deployment on the top of every server rack in the data center, which provides enhanced “DVR-like” real time lossless data recording. The latest version of CSS allows customers to capture the entire network traffic flow in a rapidly searchable form. This allows for greater visibility and network instrumentation capabilities for regulatory reporting, boosted performance for risk analytics, precise time stamping, and next gen threat detection. CSS is a great next generation solution for trading platforms because it provides real time packet capture on a per server basis with top of rack analytics, and it’s fully customizable.


How Solarflare Dramatically Improves Risk Management & Performance for Financial Institutions

Recent improvements to Solarflare’s Capture SolarSystem (CSS) have addressed key risk management and compliance issues facing financial institutions. CSS enables packet capture deployment on the top of every server rack in the data center, which provides enhanced “DVR-like” real time lossless data recording. The latest version of CSS allows customers to capture the entire network traffic flow in a rapidly searchable form. Providing valuable features for financial institutions involved in high volume trading, CSS enables these four key capabilities:

  • Greater visibility and network instrumentation capabilities for regulatory reporting
  • Enhanced network capabilities for performing risk analytics
  • Greater performance monitoring
  • Next generation threat detection

Designed with a scalable approach in mind, CSS is an open software platform that enables distributed, high performance, pervasive capture of all network nodes. Key features include line rate capture to disk (up to 40 Gb/sec), indexed query of captured data, and intuitive GUI allowing rapid deployment of data capture solutions across enterprise data centers and other high-demand networks. With an open API, CSS can also be easily integrated with third-party analytic applications to create customized data retention and analytics solutions.


CSS positions financial institutions for success by enabling both buy-side and sell-side market participants to address several types of risk issues, including:

  • Mitigating cybersecurity risk by providing greater visibility into enterprise network, enabling prevention of hostile intrusion and data theft.
  • Enabling firms to effectively address regulatory compliance requirements and deliver a comprehensive record of audit trail.
  • Improving operational efficiency by proving proof of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) compliance, enhanced troubleshooting process and network analysis.
  • Optimizing electronic trade execution management with high performance precision time stamping capabilities.

The updates to Solarflare CSS are exciting because they give real solutions to financial firms facing new regulations and cybersecurity concerns. CSS gives traders a streamlined way to capture, analyze and manage massive volumes of data across global trading systems. Combined with updated risk management capabilities, CSS is a giant step in reducing the time and cost between intrusion detection (IDS) and prevention (IPS). Solarflare’s updated CSS technology is a win-win for financial institutions looking to stay ahead of risks and regulatory reporting while also improving performance and mitigating threats.