As computer based systems became more and more common the problem of measuring time and synchronizing clocks also became more important. In a wide variety of applications the timestamping of events with the precise time of occurrence and the sequence of the events is critical. The high precision synchronization of clocks is especially important in banking and industrial applications where the correct timing of events can mean faster production or making the correct transactions on a stock market.
Systems connected on a network can implement a number of algorithms, but standard clock synchronization applications do not have the required precision or the guarantee of precision, or require additional interfaces and hardware components. The patent IEEE 1588 describes the Precision Time Protocol, designed to operate on Ethernet based networks and can achieve sub-microsecond accuracy. With the Ethernet based operation it does not require additional hardware support, so it can be a cost-effective method in systems operating on Ethernet networks.
During my work I designed and develop an FPGA based system using a soft-core microcontroller, which implements the PTP protocol and measured the accuracy of the synchronization. As the timestamping accuracy is critical in the application, the system was implemented using an IEEE 1588 compatible PHY capable of timestamping the packets.