ITSF 2022 – Mini Review

So it’s the week after the week before… the week that saw ITSF 2022 happen from 7th-10th November in Düsseldorf and I’ve been reflecting on some of the themes and trends that stood out for me over the past week…

MCMF (multi-constellation, multi-frequency) GNSS Receivers

The Sync & Timing community has had access to dual-band receivers for some time now, but tri-band receivers are coming, using L1, L2 & L5/E5a – they provide (even) better time accuracy due to their much better modelling/compensation of atmospheric delays.

DataCenter/Virtualisation – “Timing the last inch”

PCIe PTM (Precision Time Measurement) is a thing – Intel/Meta demonstrated achieving nanoseconds of sync actually into the CPU’s ART (“always running timer”) and what you can do when all software/ applications have access to that… historically part of the problem has been getting time over the PCIe bus from (PTP/SyncE) NIC to CPU. But they demonstrated a 1PPS generated by actual CPU GPIO pins, not from dedicated clock hardware/subsystems, accurate to within some nanoseconds of the PTP reference clock from another node 🙂

It’s a technology that’s come a long way since it was first mooted in early discussions nearly 10 years ago – I remember attending a TAACCS (Time Aware Applications Computers and Communication Systems) “Design Challenge” meeting that followed WSTS in 2014 at Carnegie Mellon University on the NASA Ames site.

Resilient Timescales

NetNod of Sweden, NPL of the UK and others talked about using a resilient terrestrial network of UTCk traceable and GNSS independent clock signals for critical national infrastructure. Deutsch Telekom talked about cnPRTC architectures and others promoted High Accuracy (ITU Class D) Boundary Clocks getting better than 5ns error to UTC across pure optical interconnects to make the whole network become the (atomic, UTCk traceable) clock. “The Network is The Clock” sounds kinda catchy, and a lot like: Sun’s “The Network is the Computer” slogan (from 1984).

Time Lord

This year’s Time Lord Andreas Bauch of PTB talked about some of the highlights of his career from cuckoo clocks to his experiences building a Caesium atomic clock and all about the latest (it’s been a looooooooooooong running discussion) on leap seconds. Soon (in relative terms) they might be a thing of the past, which brings me nicely to…

Time Travel

How could I forget; thanks to Meinberg there was an actual time machine there too… flux capacitors at 88MPH!

Chris Farrow