Asia's fastest data cable links Tokyo to Singapore

A new high-speed undersea data cable has opened to traffic in Asia.

The 7,800km Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE) connects Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

It transfers data via an optical fibre system at 40 gigabits per second, and is three milliseconds faster than any other cable between Singapore and Tokyo.

The gain in speed may sound small, but could prove critical to financial trades made out of the region.

So-called "high frequency trades", controlled by computers, involve making what may be hundreds of thousands of transactions in less than a second – all determined by a program that tracks market conditions.

With banks and hedge funds competing against each other, the size of the profit or loss can come down to a matter of beating the competition by a fraction of a second, explained Ralph Silva, a strategist at Silva Research Network.

"High frequency trading is basically computer trading – you program a set of rules and as events happen – the computer decides buy or sell commands," he said.

"As all incoming data is received by all banks at the same time, and because the computers are all the same with the same speed of processors, the length of time the command takes to get to the exchange makes a big difference.

"So if all banks come to the same trading decision at the same time, the one to get the transaction to the master computer first wins.

"Three milliseconds in computer time is an hour in human time."

The route for the new cable was chosen to be as straight as possible, reducing the time to get information from one end to the other to 65 milliseconds.

The data transfer capacity of 40Gbps is the equivalent of downloading a high-resolution DVD in about two seconds.

TOC thanks BBC for us to republish the article, view full article on BBC News here.