10 June 2008

IEEE1588 – Precision Time Protocol

Measurement and automation applications (and latency-sensitive electronic trading systems) often must precisely synchronize events over a widely distributed system. For example, an industrial automation system may need to synchronize distributed motion controllers, or a test and measurement system may need to measure strain gages distributed over the wing span of an airplane (or an algorithmic trading system may need to decide whether its market data is too old and monitor latency on an ongoing basis). The IEEE 1588 precision time protocol (PTP) provides a standard method to synchronize devices on a network with submicrosecond precision. The protocol synchronizes slave clocks to a master clock ensuring that events and timestamps in all devices use the same time base. IEEE 1588 is optimized for user-administered, distributed systems; minimal use of network bandwidth; and low processing overhead.

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