By Nitin Dahad, EETimes (August 11, 2021)
Facebook engineers have built a time appliance for network synchronization and open-sourced the entire specification, which should drive the price of the function down significantly. The Open Compute project is based on a time card the company invented in a PCI Express (PCIe) form factor that can turn almost any commodity server into a time appliance. With the help of the OCP community, it established the Open Compute Time Appliance Project and open-sourced every aspect of the Open Time Server.
Time appliances are critical elements of much of modern timing infrastructure from 5G and automotive to financial services and television broadcasting. All of these rely heavily on reliable distribution of time and frequency synchronization across packet networks. The big challenge with current off-the-shelf time appliances is that while they work well and are tried and tested, they are often outdated, vulnerable to software security concerns, and feature closed-source software and proprietary hardware, making them difficult to service, repair and update; and they are also expensive.
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