Trading Computers Buyer's Guide

By Scott Tafel, founder of MarketPirates.net and TradingComputers.com

Memory / RAM

When we at Falcon Trading Computers first began building trading computers over a decade ago, you could get by with one gigabyte (1GB) of memory. Back then 300-400MB was enough for the windows operating system and 200-300MB for your trading software. These days the computer won't even boot up with only one gigabyte of memory. The lowest amount of memory we at Falcon offer is 8GB, but you may want to get more to accommodate possible increases in memory usage by future trading software version releases.

How fast the memory provides information to the processor is a mix of the speed of the memory in megahertz or gigahertz ("clock speed") and the latency of the memory. Latency is a measure of the internal task speed of the memory. If the task timings of the memory in your computer are 7-7-7-22 and the clock speed is 1.33GHz, that is the same overall speed as timings of 9-9-9-24 and a clock speed of 1.67GHz. So, faster clock speed memory is not better memory if the timings are slower. It is not uncommon to see timings of 11-11-11-28 on memory these days with a clock speed of 1.6GHz, which yields a much slower overall performance than 7-7-7-22 and a clock of 1.33GHz. The higher GHz memory will stress the processor more, so it is better to go with a lower memory clock speed that is offset by faster memory timings.

trading computers memory

Using high reliability memory is important in order to avoid losses due to computer malfunctions when you are trading. The memory chips should be manufactured in factories that adhere to the highest clean room standards and use the best manufacturing processes. If there was a one in a billion chance of an error then you would have 16 errors in a 16GB system. Achieving good reliability over the life of a computer requires an extraordinary level of memory reliability.

We have used nearly every memory manufacturer that exists at one time or another and we buy over 5,000 sticks of memory each year. It is our opinion that only Hynix memory chips deliver the kind of performance and reliability that is needed by traders. Hynix is the second largest memory manufacturer in the world. They build memory that is used in high quality products (most iPhones, iPads, MacBook Pro, high-end Android cell phones, etc.) and mission critical business and government computers (IBM System X, Dell servers, and HP servers).

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