Hardware timekeeping platform provides high-speed network interfaces

19-02-2024 | Microchip Technology | Test & Measurement

Microchip Technology has announced the new TimeProvider 4500 grandmaster, a hardware timekeeping platform that provides high-speed network interfaces up to 25Gbps and allows precise time accuracy of less than one nanosecond.

The platform can support very high-capacity PTP transactions. The innovative hardware platform allows higher IEEE-1588 scalability for thousands of clients. In network locations where range and capacity must be balanced, namely in C-band 5G deployments, it is crucial to be able to serve thousands of gNodeB from a single grandmaster. Depending on the specific sites, the grandmaster could serve very few or a large number of gNodeB base stations. This results in cost-effective and flexible deployments for operators regardless of scale.

The platform offers the flexibility to connect to various generations of network elements, which helps to preserve operators' infrastructure investments. The TimeProvider 4500 clock is the first 1588 grandmaster with 25Gbps support. A customer can connect the clock to various network devices using a choice of 1Gbps, 10Gbps or 25Gbps network links. High-speed bandwidth is vital as network element upgrades are migrating towards equipment that requires a minimum of 10Gbps and, in some cases, up to 100Gbps.

The extremely high time accuracy of the platform is particularly important as operators are trying to deploy alternative solutions to GNSS.

The platform features new hardware assist enhancements, such as the latest generation of digital synthesiser and Microchip's PolarFire SoC FPGA. These platform enhancements allow the system to move into the picosecond time accuracy realm.

"Microchip continues to develop new and innovative time and frequency solutions for critical infrastructure. We designed the TimeProvider 4500 clock to deliver tighter timing accuracy on existing optical network environments without needing costly upgrades or dedicated dark fibre," said Randy Brudzinski, vice president of Microchip's frequency and time systems business unit. "This solution is also the first grandmaster with high-speed data processing up to 25Gbps, enabling connectivity with the newest network elements in deployments."

The platform is integrated with the TimePictra synchronisation management solution, enabling operators to monitor and track real-time troubles and threats with visibility across their entire network. Other key functions of the TimePictra platform include comprehensive Fault, Configuration, Accounting (Inventory), Performance and Security (FCAPS) management functions; geographical topology and domain navigation; user preference dashboard customisations, intuitive web GUI for easy management and more.

The series is the newest product to join the company's portfolio of IEEE-1588 PTP grandmaster clocks, which provide industry-leading performance and value. These field-proven solutions scale from low-density indoor applications to high-capacity 5G network timing requirements.

sebastian_springall.jpg

By Seb Springall