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JPMorgan Rolls Out (Another) FPGA Supercomputer 210

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-this-one-the-fleecer dept.
An anonymous reader writes "JP Morgan is expanding its use of dataflow supercomputers to speed up more of its fixed income trading operations. Earlier this year, the bank revealed how it reduced the time it took to run an end-of-day risk calculation from eight hours down to just 238 seconds. The new dataflow supercomputer, where the computer chips are tailored to perform specific, bespoke tasks (as explained in this Wall Street Journal article) — will be equivalent to more than 12,000 conventional x86 cores, providing 128 Teraflops of performance."
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JPMorgan Rolls Out (Another) FPGA Supercomputer

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  • All this.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:54PM (#38391282) Homepage Journal

    So they can project how much money to borrow from the Federal Government the next time they have lent beyond sane limits to property speculators or invested in schemes even Mandelbrot wouldn't be able to simulate.

  • too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khashishi (775369) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:02PM (#38391370) Journal

    These banks aren't just siphoning money, they are also siphoning talent away from more important projects. The people working on these things could be brilliant physicists or engineers, if they weren't sucked into the dark side.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:08PM (#38391428)
    using FPGA's instead of x86 would probably consume a significant amount less electricity. using manpower is good in terms of the many men being paid for their efforts instead or a few ceos just pocketing the money as extra bonuses
  • Re:All this.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:13PM (#38391504) Homepage Journal

    Let's hope the federal government regulators are paying attention this time.

    It would suck for them to be confused by the cool new computer and unable to seperate systemic or institutional risk from faster calculating devices.

    Wishful thinking. Wall Street moves at the Speed of Light with all these computer trades now. Federal regulators need a super computer to keep an eye on JPMorgan, et al.

    "You were insolvent 23 times today, for a total of 3.77 seconds. Federal guidelines mandate not being insolvent more than 15 times per day, over 1.78 seconds."

  • Re:All this.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:32PM (#38391782)

    "A sound banker, alas, is not one who foresees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way with his fellows, so that no-one can really blame him."

    --- John Maynard Keynes

  • by zill (1690130) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:45PM (#38391916)
    It's been envisioned, implemented, and commerialized a long time ago. You can buy a duel socket AMD board, and put in an AMD CPU in one socket and a FPGA co-processor in the other socket. That was 5 years ago. [wikipedia.org]

    Quite a few supercomputers on top500 have the above mentioned configuration. JPMorgan is very late to the party.

    You're probably wondering why every desktop, laptop, and smartphone doesn't come with this wonderful technology already, and there are many many reasons for that:
    - FPGA programming is difficult, and it's a much rarer talent than software programming
    - The FPGA industry is currently a duopoly and combined that with the small market of FPGAs means that the price is too high for consumer electronics
    - Specialized functionality can always be more cheaply implemented in ASICs (cryptographic co-processors, new instructions in CPUs, H264 decoding ASICs)
    - The chicken and egg problem. Developers won't start hiring FPGA programmers en masse until there are enough machines out there with FPGA co-processors installed. And people won't start buying FPGA co-processors until their favorite program supported co-processor acceleration.
  • Re:All this.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vaphell (1489021) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @09:20PM (#38392290)

    1. regulators are bought and paid for, besides they are not the brightest of the pack - if they were they would be farming gold on wallstreet themselves
    2. regulations are always looking backwards at the last crisis, never predict origins of the next one
    3. when everything is leveraged 30-50x there is nothing you can do to provide stability that is not make-believe
    4. you don't need fancy regulation to crack down on good ol' fraud, you just make it harder for small players to comply

  • Re:too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:51PM (#38393228)

    You think people that work on this stuff have anything in mind beyond personal enrichment?

    Believe me, I know a guy that does some of this stuff. His opinions are that corporate morals are unnecessary, that we can't and shouldn't seek to blame or look negatively on companies for seeking profit without regard to the social, environmental or other costs, and that open source is basically hippie communism.

    We used to argue about that sort of stuff quite a lot until I stopped speaking to him.

  • Re:All this.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Beeftopia (1846720) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @11:12PM (#38393370)

    1. regulators are bought and paid for, besides they are not the brightest of the pack - if they were they would be farming gold on wallstreet themselves 2. regulations are always looking backwards at the last crisis, never predict origins of the next one 3. when everything is leveraged 30-50x there is nothing you can do to provide stability that is not make-believe 4. you don't need fancy regulation to crack down on good ol' fraud, you just make it harder for small players to comply

    When things are going great, no one wants to change ANYTHING, no matter how outrageous, for fear of upsetting the apple cart and ending the party.

    When things go bad, only then are people willing to change. Except of course, those still engaging in outrageous practices, as they are still making money.

    As far as regulators being dim, sometimes that's true, sometimes not. IMHO, the far greater problem is the muzzling and influencing of regulators by the industries they are tasked to regulate via the politicians owned by those industries.

  • Re:All this.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danhaas (891773) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:02AM (#38393716)

    If you can't run a sanity check over what your computers are doing, you aren't an engineer or administrator. You are a message boy, slave to the computer and to who really understands what's going on.

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Friday December 16, 2011 @09:07AM (#38396304) Homepage

    The problems the risk analysis team faced even in the 2000 era was such a tough nut to crack that they had to limit the complexity of the algorithms they used just because there wasn't hardware powerful enough.

    Look, the problem here is the black swan. You can't model a black swan unless you can simulate the entire world economy down to the last neuron in some farmer's brain in a rural Chinese village. Right now we can't model a single human brain let alone all of them.

    The world economy didn't melt down because some spreadsheet only calculated 12 decimal places when it should have calculated 325. It melted down because everybody decided to leverage themselves 100x on the bet that housing prices wouldn't ever go down, and they did. Now the world governments are starting to leverage themselves in small multiples on the bet that nobody would ever stop buying their bonds, mostly to bail out the bankers who bet on housing prices. I don't need arbitrary precision arithmetic to tell you where that is going to end up if it doesn't change FAST.

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