Databento introduces its public time service for algorithmic traders

November 3, 2023
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We're pleased to announce that Databento recently launched its public time service for algorithmic traders. The service is free and available to anyone over the internet and public cloud. Anyone can synchronize their clocks against our time service by pointing their NTP client at ntp.databento.com.

History

We were inspired to provide this service because our feeds were so fast that many customers were reporting negative latencies when differencing local timestamps against our outbound timestamps. We found this was mostly an artifact of a time synchronization error between our clock source and the customers' in such situations. This made latency benchmarking hard and called for a way for customers to get a more accurate time and higher precision time sync against Databento's internal clocks.

Architecture: how it works

Our time service is composed of a pool of stratum 1 NTP servers at the CyrusOne Aurora I and Equinix NY4 data centers, making it the world's first public NTP service that's specifically housed in financial data centers and optimized specifically for systematic trading users.

Since the margin of error in time synchronization is largely a function of distance and hops to the time source, Databento's time service helps users obtain more accurate timestamps than common time providers like Google and Cloudflare, whose time servers are usually situated in general-purpose data centers that are further from popular colocation and proximity hosting sites used by financial firms.

Another important reason to use Databento's time service is the nature of its clock source. The time servers for our service are synchronized against the same PTP time source used for supplemental receive and outbound timestamps in our data, within 200 nanosecond tolerance:

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MS Name/IP address         Stratum Poll Reach LastRx Last sample
===============================================================================
#* PTP                           0   0   377     1     +9ns[  +11ns] +/-  159ns

Our PTP source is based on a pair of GPS-synchronized grandmaster clocks engineered for electronic trading and high-frequency trading firms, with <25 nanosecond root-mean-squared error against UTC.

Who should use this?

Databento's time service is ideal for users using proximity hosting services and public cloud providers like Azure, AWS, and GCP, and for customers whose servers are located in the Chicago and New York/New Jersey metro regions.

For users requiring the highest levels of accuracy, we also offer PTP time sync for colocated customers. You can learn more about our dedicated connectivity and colocation services here, or contact sales.

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