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When Microseconds Matter: Powering Gemini for High-Speed Performance

Nick Vigier 18 April, 2019 (2 min read)

Core to Gemini’s mission of building the future of money is our belief that humans and machines must be able to buy and sell the value tokens (e.g., bitcoin, ether, etc.) that power the blockchain revolution at the speed of the traditional financial system (and beyond).

All of our customers — be they individuals, institutions, or machines (e.g., self-driving cars, Internet of Things, etc.) — require a high-performance trading experience. Meeting the speed and connectivity expectations of our customers is essential to the success of both our business and the broader cryptocurrency revolution. A best-in-class infrastructure, including one that is safe, secure, and high performing helps Gemini meet the standards established by traditional financial markets.

Microseconds matter to our customers, and Gemini is continually breaking down speed barriers without compromising stability and reliability. Recent enhancements equip us with a fast, trusted, and resilient framework for meeting the exacting demands of the international financial markets.

Adapting for Speed

Like most startups, Gemini originated in an AWS (Amazon Web Services) infrastructure. This approach allowed for fast development and iteration without the overhead of running a proprietary data center.

Our first iteration in AWS was focused on proving out the components needed for us to operate appropriately as both an exchange and custodian. Excellence during this first generation focused on operational stability and security to build trust with our customers, who were a mix of individual and institutional investors.

As Gemini grew, we focused on providing our institutional customers the same high-grade platform that fits within the toolset that professional traders are accustomed to. We did not believe institutional investors should have to trade cryptocurrencies differently than they trade equities, options, or commodities.

Reaching that kind of performance required us to shift our infrastructure to a lower latency model with higher-power systems capable of executing trades in microseconds.

To make that possible, we opted to locate our infrastructure within the financial services data center hub located in Equinix’s NY5 facility in Secaucus, New Jersey in the summer of 2017. This makes us the world’s first and only crypto exchange powered from NY5 — arming us with new reach, scale, and a trusted framework for doing business with global institutions.

Direct Connectivity

Our infrastructure is consistent with the connectivity mechanisms and protocols already in use by institutional traders. We built our infrastructure to be capable of accepting direct physical connections into our networks for trading leveraging the Financial Information eXchange (FIX) protocol and high-speed matching engines.

Offering direct physical connections means that customers also located in the Equinix NY5 campus can request cross connects to our customer network edge with just a single hop to their market data, order entry, and drop copy sessions. We are also connecting to financial services extranets such as BT Radianzto more seamlessly integrate into connectivity that institutions likely already have.

Gemini also offers redundant connections to institutional customers and an option to connect to our disaster recovery (DR) site in Chicago. These options are standard on any regulated financial exchange, and Gemini is no different.

Scale for the Future

Product, Security, Licensing, and Compliance are the four pillars of Gemini. Our commitment to Product means that as we focus on building trust and rules for the crypto asset class, we will also need to build infrastructure that will scale to the future of money.

Since our infrastructure changes last year, we have been measuring execution time in microseconds rather than milliseconds. In 2019, we hope to measure even faster speeds as we continue to enhance the trading experience for all of our customers.

Onwards and Upwards,

Nick Vigier

Chief Information Officer

Originally published on medium.com