[time-nuts] Basic Stratum 1 question

Magnus Danielson magnus at rubidium.dyndns.org
Thu Aug 2 14:40:04 EDT 2007

From: John Ackermann N8UR <jra at febo.com>
Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Basic Stratum 1 question
Date: Thu, 02 Aug 2007 11:56:51 -0400
Message-ID: <46B1FEC3.5020905 at febo.com>

> ); SAEximRunCond expanded to false
> Errors-To: time-nuts-bounces+magnus=rubidium.dyndns.org at febo.com RETRY
> Jared Morrisen wrote:
> > ); SAEximRunCond expanded to false
> > Errors-To: time-nuts-bounces+jra=fluffles.febo.com at febo.com RETRY
> > 
> > Hi,
> > 
> > I am having a debate with our CIO.  He wrote in a memo about timing:
> > 
> > *Local hardware is to be considered Stratum 1, since it get time from its
> > own CMOS.*
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > I told him that absurd and that it can't be considered stratum 1.
> Hi Jared --
> I don't want to get in the middle of that argument!
> However, note that there are two different definitions of "Stratum 1" 
> floating around.

... at least, and within the synchronisation community. The stratum as such
only significance a hierarchial order.

> In the NTP sense, it is nearness to a reference clock that 
> (theoretically) provides time traceable to a national institute.  So an 
> NTP "stratum 1" server is one that is directly connected to a reference 
> clock.  (Check the NTP website; I'm sure you'll be able to find a more 
> formal version of that definition somewhere there.)

The NTP Stratum meaning is really a hop-count measure, a metric.

> But in the telecom industry, "Stratum 1" signifies a certain level of 
> timing performance, and I suppose that some computer system somewhere in 
> the world might be able to meet that standard for some period of time. 
> Someone else will be able to tell you just what the definition of 
> Stratum 1 is.

The SONET Stratum numbers indicate the level of clocks being interconnected:

Stratum 1 - Primary Reference Clock (i.e. Cesium, Hydrogen or GPS) +/- 1E-11 in frequency relative UTC
Stratum 2 - Station clock (i.e. high quality OCXO or Rb-cells)
Stratum 3 - Equipment clock (i.e. good OCXO or very good TCXO) +/- 4.6E-6 in frequency
Stratum 4 - Line clocks +/- 20E-6 in frequency

You always (in the ideal) try to hold-over from the lowest stratum, i.e. the
highest stability. A lower Stratum clock does not listen to a higher stratum
clocks holdover, but it will certainly listen to it when it is locked directly
or indirectly to a clock of same or lower stratum number.

These Stratum concepts are quite different and it is unfortunate that they
coexist and help confusing the issues. An NTP Statum 1 clock can be either a
very high quality one or one of very low quality. The NTP Stratum number says
nothing as such about stability and correctness in tracking relative UTC.

> So the real question is which of those definitions is your CIO using? 
> Based on that, you should be able to answer that either (a) local CMOS 
> isn't a reference clock traceable to a national institute, or (b) that 
> the CMOS clock isn't certified to meet telecom Stratus 1 standards.
> Of course, if his point is that one local free-running clock is the 
> "master" and that he cares only about synchronization, not accuracy, 
> across the network, then he might be making sense.  But he's not using 
> the terminology correctly.

Indeed. For some purposes all you need is to have the same time scale,
regardless if that matches the surrounding world or not.


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