Market traders are individuals or firms that buy and sell equities (stock traders) or currencies (Forex traders) or other financial assets.
In the United States, regulations require that all stock market transactions be timestamped to within seconds of UTC.
However, the trend over the past decade has been to obtain increasingly accurate timestamps. First, using the Network
Time Protocol (NTP) with a typical network client accuracy of 1/2 - 2 milliseconds, then progressing to the Precision Time Protocol
(PTP/IEEE-1588) with a typical accuracy of within 100 nanoseconds (with hardware slaves). Another method sometimes used by the
trading community is IRIG-B. This also yields a timing accuracy of 10 microseconds but is not very popular as
it requires special cabling and computer cards.
One breed of market traders are High-Frequency Traders (HFT). HFT is a term used for computer-algorithmic, high-volume,
short-term trading. The HFTs trade at the rate of more than 1000 per day, and they push the state-of-the-art in terms
of network timing accuracy. They co-locate their computer equipment only meters away from the market
center computer equipment. Doing this greatly reduces latency, giving these firms advance knowledge of market data
just milliseconds before other market participants. In these days of high-speed computers, a few milliseconds
is a great advantage.
These co-located HFTs require very precise UTC time to track orders in the market by placing timestamps in their buy and
sell messages. Most HFTs have many computers running on a dedicated Local Area Network (LAN). Typically,
each LAN has a PTP Grandmaster Clock and each computer on the LAN is synchronized to the Grandmaster. These parallel,
high-speed computers must be accurately synchronized for the algorithms to process market data, and accurate timestamps
are a crucial factor in the success of any HFT.
Contact Us for Pricing and More Information
For PTP/IEEE-1588 Grandmaster Clock information click here or contact us between 7 am and 4 pm Pacific Time: