According to Timothy Prickett Morgan, When you run a high-frequency trading operation, milliseconds are millions of dollars lost or gained. So speed is just as important as the algorithm you come up with to make your trades. That’s why supercomputer makers Appro (just eaten by Cray), Silicon Graphics, and Penguin Computing in 2010 launched special overclocked servers aimed at HFT shops, and IBM followed suit a year later. And for many HFT workloads, the number of cores doesn’t matter nearly as much as a high and consistent clock speed.
And so both Intel and AMD offered server makers non-standard Xeon and Opteron parts to juice their iron. Intel, for example, offered the “Everest” Xeon X5698, a variant of the six-core “Westmere-EP” processor for two-socket servers that had four of the six cores turned off and its clock speed permanently goosed to 4.4GHz.
As it turns out, Dell was also selling custom HFT servers to hedge funds and other financial services companies based on this “Everest” Xeon chip, Brian Payne, executive director of PowerEdge marketing at Dell, tells El Reg. (Dell never said anything about it at the time, keeping it on the down-low.)