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SyncServer, Timing

The Benefits of SyncServer Software-Based Outputs

For the last 20 years, I’ve been working with Microchip clocks. It started with Datum ExacTime to the TrueTime XLi and now I’m working with the SyncServer S650 family. There is a sea change with the SyncServer that alters the fundamental architecture of a clock for lab and metrology use but that change should have little effect on you and your applications if you make the right preparations.

Introducing SyncServer S650

Previously, this family of clocks used phase lock loops or similar to produce their time base, primarily using GPS and Atomic Clocks as a means of delivery. The oscillator choice on these devices decided clock holdover, as well as phase noise performance for sine wave outputs. The SyncServer S650 synthesises a time base from available inputs as before, but the onboard oscillator now only delivers holdover – divorcing the time base from the SyncServer’s outputs.

This separation means the device’s inputs and outputs are mainly defined in software, giving great flexibility to you as a user over the lifetime of the device. The SyncServer S650 has two output slots and the basic Timing I/O Module has two BNC Inputs and six BNC Outputs. A pre-determined configuration with a paid for FlexPort Licence allows each individual port on any Module(s) installed.

Output Quality Selection

The advantage of using software to define clock inputs and outputs frees you up from having to decide what type and quality of outputs you need, how many, and whether they fit! Previous devices may have had more than two slots available, but if you want one 10MHz output signal that would take a slot itself then the other ports on the module would be idle.

There are exceptions to this rule, the most relevant being low phase noise and ultra-low phase noise 10 MHz sine wave outputs used in applications such as satellite communications to ensure clean waveforms when the frequency is doubled up into GHz ranges. The SyncServer solves this by using dedicated Low Phase Noise and Ultra Phase Noise Modules with a high-performance Oven Crystal Oscillator on board for phase noise only. Due to the cooling requirements of the SyncServer shelf, only one of the two available slots can accommodate a Low Phase Noise Module, but the other slot in this case is still available for use.


The SyncServer S650 is not just a frequency device and has the full NTP and PTP capability of its sister product SyncServer S600. Management including port configuration is through an easy-to-use web interface, and the device supports SNMP for faults.

Existing XLi users can transition with relative ease into SyncServer S650. Its software-based port configurations enable you to deliver a lab standard that is as ready for change as and when you are.


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Microchip SyncServer S650

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