Microchip Provides New Level of Resilience and Redundancy for Timing Solutions

Article By : Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio

Microchip Technology's TimeProvider 4100 Release 2.2 provides a new level of resilience and redundancy and support for a multi-band GNSS receiver and enhanced security to ensure timing and synchronization in critical infrastructure applications.

Microchip Technology has announced its grandmaster TimeProvider 4100 Release 2.2, which provides a new level of resilience and redundancy and support for a multi-band Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver and enhanced security to ensure timing and synchronization in critical infrastructure applications. In an interview with EE Times Europe, Eric Colard, head of Emerging Products for Frequency & Time Systems at Microchip Technology, detailed the features of the new solution and the strong concerns about the dependence on GNSS (GPS, Galileo, GLONASS and BEIDOU), thus the need for more robust timing solutions. “What happens if GPS goes down for a few hours?” Colard began. “Many states have set clear policy directives around the protection of critical infrastructure for security reasons and protection for resilience. So that if something happens, the goal is to make a product really redundant, more resilient, and more secure. That is typically used in various types of critical infrastructure. There’s also the energy industry, aviation, rail, mobile, defense, all these segments believe in some form of redundant communication and networking.” Redundancy and security For today’s critical infrastructure providers – 5G wireless networks, smart grids, data centers, cable and transport services – there is a vital need for a redundant, resilient and secure timing and synchronization solution. Critical infrastructure has more stringent security requirements than any other sector due to the devastating consequences that well-designed attacks can have on society’s operations, prosperity, and well-being. Redundancy ensures continuity of services and was previously offered on a hardware basis. Microchip’s grandmaster TimeProvider 4100 Release 2.2 provides redundancy through software implementation, optimizing hardware costs. Microchip grandmaster Microchip claims its TimeProvider 4100 Release 2.2 grandmaster provides a higher level of resilience by supporting a new multi-band, multi-constellation GNSS receiver to protect against time delay from space weather, solar events, ionosphere effects and other disruptions that can impact critical infrastructure services. Multi-band GNSS is particularly important for the highest levels of accuracy, including Primary Reference Time Clock Class B (PRTC-B) (40 ns) and Enhanced Primary Reference Time Clock (ePRTC) (30 ns). TimeProvider 4100 includes support for the latest ITU-T G.8275.1 and G.8275.2 1588 phase profiles, complemented by extensive port fan-outs for PTP, Network Time Protocol (NTP), SyncE and E1 / T1. Synchronization and redundancy (timing) at the same time are required to mitigate infrastructure risks, enabling always-on technology as well as support for multi-band GNSS to eliminate ionospheric time error delays. On the security side, the new solution adds anti-jamming and anti-spoofing as well as standard-based authentication so that services can be accessed by authorized people. The TimeProvider 4100 Release 2.2 grandmaster incorporates additional Microchip technology including its OCXO, super OCXO, rubidium atomic clock, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), Ethernet switches, synthesizers and cleaning oscillators.
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Figure 1: If GNSS is lost, oscillator choices now include Super OCXO (Source: Microchip)
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Figure 2: TimeProvider 4100 (Source: Microchip) – Timing redundancy
Hardware redundancy has a lot of compromises: Loss of most legacy ports; No fan-out of E1/T1; Limited ETH ports; No fan-out for ETH ports; Loss of redundancy of multi-band GNSS; No redundancy of of the whole device just of one replicated module. “Time delay can greatly impact time accuracy. Multi-band algorithm mitigates effects of ionospheric variations and TimeProvider 4100 2.2 offers multi-band support in every unit, default setting single-band, multi-band operation via software license without adding of new hardware,” said Colard. He added that the device is supporting GPS L1/L2C, Galileo E1/E5b, GLONASS L1/L2, BeiDou B1I/B2I, QZSS L1/L2C, SBAS L1 with robust timing performance by mitigating ionosphere errors. Until recently, the main source of accurate time was the Global Positioning System (GPS) and regional constellations that make up GNSS. Deploying GNSS, however, can be costly for service providers, given the costs associated with upgrading to GNSS-compatible receivers and antennas and the increasing densification of endpoints. As a result, telecom, cable and utility operators implementing vPRTC benefit from solutions where GNSS dependency is reduced or eliminated. The TimeProvider 4100’s multi-domain vPRTC architecture is a solution that provides high-performance, redundant, accurate sub-5 nanosecond distribution over regional and national networks. This article was originally published on EE Times Europe. Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio has worked in the research field of gravitational waves and in space research projects as a design engineer. He wonders at times if someone up there has been sending us messages that we haven’t received or been able to decrypt. Maurizio is an electronic engineer and holds a Ph.D. in Physics. Maurizio enjoys writing and telling stories about technology and electronics. His main interests are Power, Automotive, IoT, Digital. Maurizio is currently editor-in-chief of Power Electronics News and European Correspondent of EE Times. He also oversees discussions on EEWeb.com. He has written various technical and scientific articles, and a couple of books for Springer on Energy Harvesting and Data Acquisition and Control System.

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