eSignal - Overall Performance Issues

ICE Data Services -

eSignal - Overall Performance Issues

Market Activity Overview
We estimate that market activity is more than doubling each year. According to a leading industry source, in August 2006 during peak 5 second periods, outbound data measured 200,000 messages per second. By August 2008, the rate for the same peak had increased to over 900,000 messages a second, a whopping 350% increase in just 2 years. Increases have come across the board on Futures, Forex, Equities, and Options.
Market activity tends to spike during the open and closing periods each day and when major news is announced. We also see intraday spikes at other times as automated trade and quote systems kick-in after crossing a new threshold. If you look at market stats like $TVOL and $TVOLQ, you'll usually be able to spot the days that market activity spiked - although those stats don't reflect transaction or quote volume - which are significant parts of the increased traffic (i.e. sending a trade of 1000 shares vs 10 trades at 100 shares each - 10 times the traffic, same total number of shares traded).

You can limit the activity to your desktop by reducing the number of symbols you are monitoring or increase your performance by increasing your RAM, CPU speed and bandwidth connection. A combination of adjustments will typically improve performance but they may resume as volumes increase again over time. Please read on for additional information.

Freezing issues tend to be a combination of market activity (trading spikes) in conjunction with the configuration of each user's desktop so, there are quite a few variables to run through to locate the problem. Please take a little time to go over each of these elements and review the associated links. By the time we've covered all of these options, there's an excellent likelihood that we can resolve any system freezing issues you may be encountering.

Issues related to your PC or home/office setup:

PC Hardware Specs
It's estimated that output from the Exchanges is roughly doubling each year. As these trading volumes continue to climb and the complexity and power of our application increases, it's important that your PC be fast enough to keep pace. If you are using a PC that is 2-3 years old, you should consider upgrading. It's especially important that your processor and RAM meet our current System Requirements.

Microsoft® Windows® Upgrades (including Internet Explorer) 
To keep your system up to date, make sure to perform the automatic Windows Updates or visit the Microsoft Site to perform updates as needed.  These are especially important for the eSignal 12 series.  For eSignal 10.6 you'll want to be sure to stay current with Internet Explorer, since it's used as the embedded browser for certain functions like back testing, research, etc. 

As noted on our System Requirements page, Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7 are fully supported.  For compatibility considerations please see the following articles:

Windows 10 Compatibility

Video Drivers
Freezing can sometimes be the result of conflicts in your video adapter cards, especially when using multiple monitors. Where possible, it's recommended that you use the same type of video card for each monitor so all the drivers are sure to be compatible. We also recommend that you keep your video drivers updated by visiting the manufacturers website and downloading the latest version.

Disk Defragmentation
Defragmentation is a process that rearranges and reassembles your files on your hard disk. The purpose of defragmentation is higher PC performance when accessing files. This utility can be found by clicking on Start, All Programs, Accessories then System Tools. The defragmenter can take a considerable time to run, so start the Defragmenter before going out for the evening or at the end of the day. Defrag your disk at least once a month for Optimal PC performance.

Hidden processes/3rd party apps
We're seeing more and more problems caused by other applications running under Windows that the user is often completely unaware of. It takes a bit of time, but if you can go through the Windows Task Manager and make sure that every process running should be running, that would really help. Here's a in-depth KB article with more on this subject.

Frequent Disconnections, Slow Data
Many problems of this type have been associated to particular Internet Service Providers (ISP's) or lack of sufficient RAM on your system. There are a couple of steps you can take:

First try shutting down your computer for a couple of minutes, then reboot. This will release any locked-up memory. After you reboot, make sure that only your internet connection and eSignal are the programs you open.

For more on troubleshooting your internet connection, please review KB Article 1301.

Possible CPU or freezing issues directly related to eSignal:

eSignal Version
With the release of eSignal 11 and now 12, we now offer support for multi-threading including the option to choose between the 32-bit and 64-bit version of the program.  Both versions of eSignal 12 have been optimized for improved performance.  Click here to determine which version you should download.

If you have been steadily upgrading the eSignal 12 program to try and resolve some performance issues, we recommend a complete removal and clean installation of the latest version of the program to fully take advantage of the new performance enhancements that have been made.  If you need assistance with this our tech support reps will be happy to help and can be contacted here

Our development team continues to make improvements and updates to optimize our program and keep it as lean as possible. Therefore, we highly recommend that you always run the most current version of eSignal whether it's version 10.6 or version 12. Here's a link to our download page to get your free upgrade.

Beta testers - Please use the "Report d Bug" feature provided on the support menu within the eSignal 12 to report any bugs that are encountered.

Try a different page/layout:
Before moving on to the next couple of troubleshooting ideas, it's a good idea to just create a fresh page or layout, save it and exit and re-start eSignal. This is the fastest way to determine if the problem is within eSignal or not. If your CPU usage drops significantly by loading a page/layout with just a few symbols, then the problem may very well lie within a specific area of eSignal and you should be able to isolate the problem with further troubleshooting. If the CPU spike continues or the data appears to lag still, than it's likely a PC issue or something going on with the eSignal network. If you do find the problem goes away in a fresh page/layout, try re-loading the old page/layout and then review the following areas:

Tick charts
Tick charts are very intensive on your CPU, especially on active issues. If you are using raw tick charts, you might want to experiment with using volume, price change, seconds bars or tick bars and see if that helps. Tick Bars are built at the server level and returned to the desktop. The more bars requested, the longer it will take to download that data. To illustrate the impact, let's say you request a tick chart of ES #F (CME emini), and you get 10,000 ticks. If you instead chose 50t, you'd get just 200 bars (with 50 ticks per bar equaling the same 10,000 ticks) and see a dramatic difference in retrieval times.

If you are also calculating bid/ask changes, it's also worth turning those OFF and seeing if CPU usage improves. To turn off bid/ask changes, right-click in an Advanced Chart and select Edit Studies. Then change Chart Type to Line/Tick. You'll then be able to uncheck the boxes for connect or show b/a dots.

: displaying the Windows Task Manager is a good way to gauge CPU usage - you can bring that up by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL.

Time Templates in Advanced Charts(eSignal 10.6)
By default, eSignal 10.6 will attempt to grab several days' worth of data on most issues. When it comes to contracts like the S&P Emini, that represents a great deal of information. The default is also to run in dynamic mode, which automatically grabs back data as you scroll in Advanced Charts. It's a good idea to experiment with Time Templates to control the amount of data the chart is requesting. Here are the Time Template Instructions for easy reference.

Time and Sales Queries
In order to speed the retrieval of time and sales data, try using the date and time fields to narrow your search. If you are utilizing filters, keep in mind that the narrower the search and the more active the symbol, the more intense the CPU and memory draw. When a filter is set, the T&S window will go out to the tick server and look at the most recent 300 ticks. Once it finds enough matches to fill the screen (with say 50-100 results), it'll stop and just monitor the data streaming in. If it can't find enough matches, it'll keep looking 300 ticks at a time, to find more. So, if you have multiple T&S windows open in your page/layout and are using filters, try eliminating some filters or broadening the criteria.

Maximize Your Screen
To improve performance, try maximizing the eSignal application to free up extra memory needed to paint items in the background.  Experimenting with various screen sizes may also help free up additional resources.  Close any eSignal windows that are not currently in use.

Line List
The amount of lines added to your advanced charts can also cause your system to slow down or even freeze. As the file increases in size more system resources are needed to manage this file. This is why we've added the "Lines" list pop-up window. This gives customers the ability to manage their own lines, i.e. edit, delete and even be warned when you've reached a pre-selected number of lines. Removing lines that are not being used will most likely help the overall performance of eSignal.

Watch List studies (eSignal 12)
eSignal 12 adds to the ability to have studies and EFS files on Watch Lists.  This is a great feature and offers lots of customization, but it can take up quite a few system resources depending on how complex the formulas are and how many of them are being loaded at the same time.  Limiting how many of these are loaded at the same time and using time templates will help over all performance of the program.

Symbol Count
With the advances we've made in symbol hibernation, symbol limits are often not an issue anymore.  However, the note below is still valid in some cases.

Each active symbol on your desktop takes up a piece of the system's resources while the markets are trading. In some cases, users aren't even aware that they have other symbols loaded into memory. You can refer to the symbol counter on your Status bar to see how many symbols are currently being monitored. 

EFS/Add-on Studies:

Some studies can use exhaustive math routines that may fail to keep up as data rates increase. You may also have a bad or poorly written EFS that isn't optimized and could contribute to excessive CPU or RAM draw. The easiest way to determine whether an EFS or add-on study is causing the problem is to simply remove them from your Chart one at a time and monitor the change in CPU usage in the Task Manager. If you discover a problem with a specific study, you may want to use the eSignal EFS Community to help you determine how to improve the performance of that EFS. Click here to visit the EFS Forum.

If you continue to experience freezing problems after going through each of these items, please try to document as much as you can about what you've tried and then contact Technical Support. We'll do our best to assist you further.