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April 30, 2001

Big Blue's Slice Of The Trading Pie

By A special correspondent

Armed with its latest gizmo, IBM is eyeing a larger market share of the trading room desktop market.

Big Blue's gambit: a rack-mounted, Windows-based workstation dubbed IntelliStation R Pro. IBM has also introduced a new flat panel monitor.

The remote trader workstation - not much larger than a medium-sized pizza box - comes on top of its existing line of IntelliStations. And it is the industry's first one-unit, rack-mounted computer for financial houses, industry pros say.

The price tag for the R Pro is $4,500 to $5,000. The T 210 monitor sells for just under $6,000.

The workstations, which can be vertically stacked on racks away from the trading desk, run on either single or dual Intel Pentium 111 processors. They can store up to 4 gigabytes of SDRAM memory.

Hedge Fund Client

New York-based hedge fund Millennium Partners, which settled into a new office space last year, has installed the IBM trading floor solution.

"We needed a modern trading floor," said John Vincenzo, Millennium's chief information officer. "IBM's technology allowed us to free up space and give more flexibility to our traders."

By reducing the size of the physical trading desk, Millennium was able to increase its trading positions by 34 percent with roughly the same amount of square footage. This is a big plus for firms in the New York metropolitan area, which has some of the highest real estate costs in the nation.

The new IBM T210 flat-panel monitor boasts a 20.8 inch viewable image with a 2048 x 1536 pixels, which is about double the resolution currently available on other large-screen displays.

The new oversized screen allows traders to view two full-sized 8 1/2 x 11-inch pages side-by-side. And even though they are oversized, the screens can be mounted in a separate room away from the trading floor, thus freeing up space.

Lower Energy Costs

IBM claims its new solution will lower energy costs for users. Since the flat panel screens generate roughly 30 percent less heat than the standard CRT and the workstations operate in a remote location, IBM estimates that firms cut their air conditioning costs almost in half.

The R Pro can run on industry standard trading room applications such as Reuters 3000Xtra. A source close to the company says that IBM is currently looking into the possibility of adding applications from other vendors.

While IBM was not willing to disclose any other recent installations, sources say several European banks are in the process of using the new solution.