How quickly will capital markets firms deploy Intel's and AMD's new quad-core processors? We asked a few industry experts and got varied answers. Gartner analyst John Enck believes most firms will follow their usual server replacement schedule (typically three years after purchase). "The change in performance, even for those optimized applications, just isn't dramatic enough for them to go through the pain and the manpower it takes to swap out an existing on-the-floor server that's still under warranty," he says. "I don't expect a big burst of buying here."Mike Parlapiano, executive vice president of Reuters Information Management Solutions, has the opposite view. "The three-year refresh rate may be in general a good rule of thumb, but given what's going on with feeds and update rates, I think it's out the window right now," he says. "Clients don't have a lot of choice, they're caught between massively increasing update rates from data sources and big limitations in cooling and power in their own data centers. So while they might love to ride out what they bought for three years and fully depreciate it, they're being pushed to be much more aggressive than that. There are a lot of firms out there with major problems with data center space, who are looking for ways they can consolidate. There are many whose infrastructure wasn't sized for the rate of increase in update rates they've seen. They need to continue to invest and it's not about a three-year depreciation cycle, it's about dealing with the reality of data centers and update rates."
One early adopter is Thomas Chippas, head of Autobahn Equity North America at Deutsche Bank. "I made a decision to accelerate the server upgrade process, to bring up some of the software on multi-core sooner in order to have the ability to process more data, faster," he says. "The ability to take on more business without needing more hardware in high-speed, low-latency trading lets me lets me compete and win business."
The overall rate of quad-core server adoption will depend on the application, according to John Fruehe, worldwide market development manager for server and workstation products at AMD. "If this is my core trading system and I know I can get a 25% increase in performance, I might want to jump on that immediately," he says. On the other hand, for things like file and print sharing, "you're going to see people never refreshing hardware if they can get away with it," he says.
To the question, "Will Wall Street firms speedily adopt these new quad-core chips?" Peter Lankford, director of STAC drily answers, "The software vendor roadmaps all include multicore, so yes."