The FAST ProtocolSM is a data compaction methodology, developed by the FPL Market Data Optimisation Working Group, in response to ever-increasing electronic trading volumes and market data messaging rates. The FAST ProtocolSM reference source code is being made freely available on an âopen sourceâ basis in accordance with the W3C software license. The availability of this source code is of great significance to the financial community as it includes the FASTAPI code set, granting users easy access to the FAST functions used to compress data streams. The release of the FAST ProtocolSM reference source code is accompanied by supporting documentation, providing a well-structured description of the code. Included in the release pack are basic examples for encoding and decoding using a set message template.
The FAST ProtocolSM leverages implicit tagging, field encoding and serialisation in order to radically reduce message size and bandwidth utilisation reducing FIX data feeds by up to 90%. Proof of Concept tests that concluded in December 2005, demonstrated that the FAST ProtocolSM was capable of significantly improving the communication efficiencies for several real-world exchange data feeds without incurring material trade-offs in processing and latency, therefore proving highly suitable for the broadcast of market data or very high volume order routing. According to Scott Atwell of American Century Investments and Co-chair of the FPL Global Steering Committee, âThe degree of message size and bandwidth reduction that FPLâs market data effort has achieved is nothing short of amazing, especially since this is accomplished without incurring the offsetting computational processing costs that one would typically see with regular compression algorithms. Now the source code that these brilliant programmers used is being made freely available.â
Having received significant support from leading industry innovators it is expected that the FAST ProtocolSM will enjoy wide adoption in the marketplace, presenting a major opportunity for the financial community as a whole to improve the effectiveness of its technology infrastructure.
Matt Simpson of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Co-chair of the FPL Market Data Optimisation Working Group stated, "The release of the FAST source code is important since it provides a starting point for those interested in using the protocol. It is intended to encourage adoption, promote standard usage, and provides a leg-up for those looking to build a FAST-based feed. The source code rounds out a growing set of tools that has been developed by FPL for the use of FAST including structured code documentation, core specifications, user's guide, and overview material.â