Ten Microseconds Over LAN, for Free (extended)

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Executive Summary

The status quo for timestamping in PCs is ntpd, which under general conditions is accurate to 1ms at best. For precision applications this is inadequate, but it is a low cost solution which suits many generic applications. IEEE-1588 provides mechanisms for sub-microsecond accuracy, but to achieve this more hardware is needed. The authors have developed the TSCclock, which gives performance between these two, around 10 microseconds on LAN, sub millisecond beyond, but using commodity hardware. They benchmark the TSCclock to show its potential as an inexpensive yet accurate software clock, which could be used with IEEE-1588 for LANs, but has wider applicability as a replacement to ntpd.

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