Virtual Primary Reference Time Clock

Virtual Primary Reference Time Clock

Product Information

Highly Secure and Resilient Timing Architecture

Microchip’s innovative virtual Primary Reference Time Clock (vPRTC) is a highly secure and resilient network-based timing architecture that has been developed to meet the increased need for clock accuracy and precision in critical infrastructures such as telecoms, energy, finance, and data centres.

The vulnerability of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) systems is well documented and the increased need for clock accuracy, security and resiliency in critical infrastructures is well understood. GNSS (which includes GPS, Galileo, GLONASS and BeiDou) has been deployed ubiquitously across these infrastructures as the only way to deliver local 100 nanosecond timing solutions as demand increases exponentially, resulting in rapid proliferation of highly accurate point timing solutions in mission critical applications.

Secure, Resilient PNT

Microchip provides a portfolio of technologies, products, and services that enables critical infrastructure operators to construct a secure and robust Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) network that is resilient to GNSS errors.

The following are key features of this new solution which is composed of several products from the source of time to the end nodes:

  • Caesium systems as primary reference clocks
  • GNSS as a source of time
  • BlueSky GNSS Firewall for validation and secure use of GNSS for anti-jamming and anti-spoofing
  • Provides a high-performance, redundant source of time through enhanced PRTC (ePRTC) (meets 30 ns performance and uses a combination of Caesium and GNSS time sources)
  • Leverages existing optical network (avoiding high-cost dark fibre expenses)
  • Uses a dedicated lambda to transport time rapidly and securely
  • Allows bidirectional time flow (East and West) to leverage a redundant path in case of any issues from source to end point
  • Chains of TimeProvider 4100s in HP BC operation mode for high-precision, multi-domain, high-performance boundary clocks (MD HP BC) that meet today’s standards (T-BC Class D 5 ns)
  • TimeProvider 4100s in Gateway Clock mode for distribution of precise time and phase to end nodes (eNodeBs, gNodeBs, small cells)
  • TimePictra for end-to-end management and monitoring


BlueSky GNSS Firewall

BlueSky GNSS Firewall protects already deployed GNSS systems from spoofing and jamming threats by providing a cost-effective overlay solution. BlueSky integrates seamlessly between the existing GNSS antenna and GNSS receiver system.

Atomic Clock

Representing the world standard in timekeeping, high-precision atomic system clocks are at the heart of the vPRTC system providing an autonomous time scale that can maintain accurate time if GNSS is impaired.

TimeProvider 4100

To minimise the dependency on GNSS in the vPRTC architecture, receivers are only required in the core enhanced Primary Reference Timing Clock (ePRTC) sites where they can be protected and monitored to shield the network from the risk of GNSS jamming or spoofing threats.

Microchip’s TimeProvider 4100 ensures redundancy via bi-directional east and west timing flows to local source clocks in aggregation sites with 100ns of accuracy.

The TP4100 clock can be configured in the following ways:

  • In ePRTC operation mode to provide 30ns accuracy at the source of timing chain
  • As a high-performance boundary clock to deliver high accuracy over a secure optical network
  • As a gateway clock on the protected PTP southbound timing flow towards 5G Remote Radio Heads (RRHs)

Delivering virtual PRTC Performance

Early deployments have seen core instances of ePRTC and PRTC-B using BlueSky, TimeCesium and TimeProvider 4100 distributing time in two or three clock domains for resiliency to TimeProvider 4100s with High Performance Boundary Clock (HPBC) on single fibre wavelengths over distances up to 100km and beyond. This network of HPBCs delivers “virtual” PTRC performance for every port on the network; delivering sub 100ns from a resilient autonomous and deterministic timing network.

Learn more about vPRTC architecture.

The Chronos difference: Picosecond Timing Performance

Chronos can provide a truly cost-effective, scalable and reliable method of delivering microsecond timing performance to the edge of your network with Microchip’s vPRTC. Simply put, we can deliver timing performance approaching picoseconds without the need for expensive and maybe even unobtainable GNSS installations.

Including some core enhanced PRTC sites, using Microchip’s Caesium Atomic Clock technology allied to GNSS to hold timing performance to 100 nanoseconds for 14 days or more, vPRTC brings an independent, deterministic timing platform to your entire network. At each of these high-performance boundary clock sites, you can support up to 16 southbound network connections using a variety of timing protocols to deliver the microsecond performance on a sustainable basis across the edge of the network.

Contact our team to discuss vPRTC and your secure and resilient timing requirements.