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Why Stock Exchanges Choose AMD

AMD issued a news release earlier this week saying that many leading stock exchanges are using its dual-core Opteron processors in their data centers to conduct billions of daily transactions. The next step for these stock exchanges is the transition to quad-core processors, which will require upgrades and careful planning to avoid downtime.
AMD issued a news release earlier this week saying that many leading stock exchanges are using its dual-core Opteron processors in their data centers to conduct billions of daily transactions. The next step for these stock exchanges is the transition to quad-core processors, which will require upgrades and careful planning to avoid downtime.AMD has a pretty impressive roster of global exchange customers, including NYSE Group, Philadelphia Stock Exchange, International Securities Exchange's Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Montreal Exchange. Italy's stock exchange, Borsa Italiana, is the most recent addition. AMD says stock exchanges are choosing its processors over those of competitors, such as Intel, because of scalability, cost, and performance, and performance-per-watt.

One thing worth noting is that all these stock exchanges compete with each other and need a data center that can execute the fastest trade while handling huge volumes of data. The current trend on Wall Street is to position servers in the physical proximity of the stock exchange to overcome the technical barriers of data latency, an issue my colleague, Richard Martin, and I reported on in a feature story last month.

I talked to AMD's newest customer, Borsa Italiana, earlier this week about its implementation of Opteron processor-based ProLiant BL series BladeSystem servers from Hewlett-Packard. Borsa Italiana has banks of servers for every customer because each customized application must run on a separate server. Since the implementation, Borsa Italiana increased server density by more than 100%, reduced air conditioning usage, and improved performance. "We chose the HP blade system with AMD's processors for manageability. It takes a lot of time and money to deploy and maintain these severs," Alessandro Pelosi, the stock exchange's IT director, told me in an interview.

Barcelona is AMD's upcoming quad-core version of Opteron, expected to ship sometime this summer. Borsa Italiana plans to upgrade to Barcelona once it's available, but not without careful planning beforehand. "We're thinking about transitioning to quad-core away from dual-core because it will make our data centers more efficient, but we don't want to create downtime while we do that," Pelosi said. The stock exchange will acquire new servers with quad-core capabilities and likely will upgrade some of its existing servers. Pelosi said not all existing servers will be upgraded since it's "too long and expensive of an operation."

One major benefit of quad-core that stock exchanges like Borsa Italiana can take advantage of is improved performance in server consolidation. With more cores in the processor, you get better performance and more capabilities. The other benefits remain to be seen as the stock exchanges make their transition.