From the April 2014 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

Trading on the cutting edge

The Xeon Option

Intel offers another high-end processor, the Xeon. There are several considerations that come into play for choosing the i7 over the Xeon for trading.

First, Intel specifically has designed the Xeon for enterprise server use. While they are powerful processors, Intel’s target market for these processors are data centers and high-performance cloud computing environments. The Intel Core i7 series, on the other hand, was designed for consumer-level computing.

Second, Xeon processors are not designed to be overclocked. While it’s possible to overclock a Xeon, it’s extremely difficult to make stable. You also would have to use a motherboard for which the Xeon is not designed. Traders need stability and reliability! 

On the other hand, the Intel Core i7 series of processors, where the last letter is a “k” (for example, i7-4770k) are actually “unlocked” by Intel and are designed to be overclocked by enthusiasts with the proper know-how. There is nothing to fear from properly overclocked processors that are designed for the practice, however. This is why some companies, such as EZ Trading Computer, will offer a five-year warranty on their overclocked processors.

Last, the cost to run the highest-speed Xeon processors is substantially higher than it is to run the fastest i7s. Currently, the fastest i7 we have measured from our testing is our overclocked version of Intel Core i7-4960x processor at 4.5Ghz. This CPU benchmark testing is done using PassMark’s CPU Mark testing software, which is one of the best and most encompassing benchmark tests. The software generates a benchmark score that can be used for comparison purposes. A benchmark score of at least 7,500 is the absolute minimum for trading.

A representative retail cost of purchasing the Intel Core i7-4960x and the necessary CPU cooler comes to about $1,175. (Note that this is only for illustrative purposes as retail prices do fluctuate.) The Xeon that meets or exceeds the 7,500 CPU benchmark is the Xeon E5-2690v2, which sells for a whopping $2,149. The necessary motherboard for the Xeon version is also more expensive. The build cost is roughly twice as much with a Xeon.

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About the Author
Murray A. Ruggiero Jr.

Murray A. Ruggiero Jr. is the author of "Cybernetic Trading Strategies" (Wiley). E-mail him at ruggieroassoc@aol.com.

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