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May 16, 2014

Xcelerit Brings Intel Performance to Quantitative Finance

DUBLIN, Ireland, May 16 — The Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor is Intel’s supercomputer on a card. Each unit has at least 57 core processing units and the top-of-the range 7120 has 61 cores capable of delivering a total performance of over 1.2 Teraflops. Extracting this kind of performance takes time, patience and deep technical expertise – things that are not always plentiful in investment banking circles. The financial community needs the power that the Intel Phi coprocessor can deliver, but does not always want to make the investment of time and expertise to ‘make Phi fly.’

Enter Xcelerit, a hot start-up company that has focussed on accelerating code for clients in the banking industry. Xcelerit produces an SDK that makes it simple for companies to reveal the hidden parallelism in their code. According to their CEO, Hicham Lahlou, this is a fairly straightforward process. “Most of the original code out there can stay the same,” he says. “You just need to find the hotspots and make minor changes using our intuitive API.” This week sees the launch of an Xcelerit SDK that targets the Intel Xeon Phi PCIe card opening up supercomputing performance to a whole new community.

Xcelerit has already had great success in investment banking where the big demand has been for calculating counter-party risk. “Since the financial meltdown of 2007, banks are under pressure from regulators to keep a constantly updated picture of their exposure to the collapse of the institutions they trade with,” says Lahlou. “As the computations get more complex and more frequent, banks have to resort to using accelerator processors such as GPUs and the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor.

With clients drawn from the top 10 investment banks in the world, Xcelerit routinely achieves code speedups of 5x, 10x, 100x and more by managing existing compute resources better or by adding accelerators. The vector units and many-core capabilities of the Intel Phi coprocessor have the potential to speed up many stock options pricing problems more than a hundred-fold if used with the right software. Now this kind of acceleration will be available to all. “We have a number of banking clients that are already using accelerators for performance,” said Lahlou. “Now they can use that same code and have it running straight away on the Intel Phi silicon.”

Intel, for its part welcomes the new programming capability. Principal Engineer, Robert Geva is no stranger to code acceleration having shaped Intel compilers over many years. “The Xeon Phi coprocessor can really deliver spectacular performance to clever programmers who make good use of its cores, caches and vector processing units,” he said, “This Xcelerit SDK is very welcome as it opens up Phi performance to programmers who don’t have that expertise.”

The SDK is designed for programmers who want to stay away from the low-level hardware details, but still want to get excellent performance. So far, Robert Geva has been very impressed. “We have seen the Xcelerit approach delivering some really remarkable performance – in many cases delivering 95% and more of the performance of code that has been hand-tuned by experts,” he said.

About Xcelerit

Xcelerit is a software tools company, committed to providing solutions to close the widening gap between hardware evolution and software performance. The company is targeting industries facing compute-intensive problems including: Computational Finance, Oil & Gas, and Data Analytics. Xcelerit is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. More information at www.xcelerit.com

About Intel

Intel Corporation is the world leader in silicon innovation and develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance the pace of your science and discovery. Founded in 1968 Intel introduced the world’s first microprocessor in 1971. Today, we supply the computing and communications industries with chips, boards, systems, and software building blocks that are the “ingredients” of computers, servers and networking and communications products. The technology we invent today will shape the world’s future. See www.intel.com/pressroom.

Source: Xcelerit

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