IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) reported Wednesday that its year-long technology development effort aimed at enhancing the performance of its electronic platform for commodities trading was a success, noting that the platform’s processing speed improved 1,700% over the course of the program.

During the initiative to increase the speed and scale of its electronic trading platform, ICE said it implemented new matching engines for the trading of futures and cleared over-the-counter (OTC) contracts, re-architected its internal messaging systems, upgraded matching-engine servers, and tuned each component of the platform to maximize efficiency in execution and processing. ICE also improved its Application Programming Interfaces (API) to reduce customer bandwidth requirements, upgraded its network hardware, and re-engineered its network.

In addition, ICE said it deployed an industry-standard FIX API (Financial Information Exchange – Application Programming Interface) to complement its longstanding Java API. The company reported that approximately 20 firms are in the process of completing connectivity of their customized trading applications to the newly issued FIX API.

Looking to trim costs over the past year to better serve its global customer base, ICE opened telecommunications hubs in Chicago, London and Singapore. These telecommunication hubs were designed to facilitate access and reduce connectivity costs to ICE’s electronic trading platform.

“These transformational changes to the ICE platform are the result of our continuing commitment to innovation in the rapidly growing global energy markets,” said Charles A. Vice, ICE’s president. “The year-long platform development program positions the ICE platform among the leading derivatives platforms today. We were early proponents of the speed and transparency that electronic trading brings to the energy markets, and we will continue to seek advances in technology to serve the energy marketplace.”

ICE’s electronic energy marketplace serves a “diverse range” of participants in the global futures and OTC marketplace, the company said. Currently, approximately 50% of the world’s crude futures contracts are traded on the platform.

“As a participant in ICE’s markets, we have benefited from the advances in the ICE platform,” said Ethan Kahn from Quiet Light Trading. “The platform is now faster and more flexible than ever.”

Among the technology development effort’s results, ICE said its platform is currently 600% faster than at the beginning of 2006 and over 1,700% faster than the same time last year, while handling more than 10 times the message volume compared to last year. ICE boasts that the average round-trip transaction time of approximately 31 milliseconds (ms) is on par with the fastest electronic platforms in the industry. The platform’s average round-trip transaction times have continually improved from 586 ms in May 2005 to 216 ms in December 2005; and from 183 ms in April 2006 to 31 ms at the end of May 2006.

ICE also reported that its futures business segment, ICE Futures, completed its transition to electronic trading in April 2005. “Since the transition to electronic trading, ICE Futures has achieved record volume,” the company said. “Electronic trading in the futures markets on the platform has grown from an average of 33,296 contracts per day just prior to the electronic transition last year, to 338,792 contracts per day in May 2006, representing a 918% increase in electronically traded futures volume.”

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