Reference Clock Options

Reference Clock Support

The NTP Version 3 daemon currently supports several different radio, satellite and modem reference clocks plus a special pseudo-clock used for backup or when no other clock source is available. Detailed descriptions of individual device drivers and options can be found in the Reference Clock Drivers page. Additional information can be found in the pages referenced there, including the Debugging Hints for Reference Clock Drivers and How To Write a Reference Clock Driver pages. In many drivers, support for a PPS signal is available as described in Pulse-per-second (PPS) Signal Interfacing page. Many drivers support special line discipline/streams modules which can significantly improve the accuracy using the driver. These are described in the Line Disciplines and Streams Drivers page.

A reference clock will generally (though not always) be a radio timecode receiver which is synchronized to a source of standard time such as the services offered by the NRC in Canada and NIST and USNO in the U.S. The interface between the computer and the timecode receiver is device dependent and will vary, but is often a serial port. A device driver specific to each clock must be selected and compiled in the distribution; however, most common radio, satellite and modem clocks are included by default. Note that an attempt to configure a reference clock when the driver has not been included or the hardware port has not been appropriately configured results in a scalding remark to the system log file, but is otherwise non hazardous.

For the purposes of configuration, xntpd treats reference clocks in a manner analogous to normal NTP peers as much as possible. Reference clocks are identified by a syntactically correct but invalid IP address, in order to distinguish them from normal NTP peers. Reference clock addresses are of the form 127.127.t.u, where t is an integer denoting the clock type and u indicates the type-specific unit number. The server command is used to configure a reference clock, where the address argument in that command is the clock address. The key, version and ttl options are not used for reference clock support. The prefer option can be useful to persuade the server to cherish a reference clock with somewhat more enthusiasm than other reference clocks or peers. Further information on this option can be found in the Mitigation Rules and the prefer Keyword page. Some reference clocks require additional options to further specify the operation.

The stratum of a reference clock is by default zero. Since the xntpd daemon adds one to the stratum of each peer, a primary server ordinarily displays stratum one. In order to provide engineered backups, it is often useful to specify the reference clock stratum as greater than zero. The stratum option is used for this purpose. Also, in cases involving both a reference clock and a pulse-per-second (PPS) discipline signal, it is useful to specify the reference clock identifier as other than the default, depending on the driver. The refid option is used for this purpose. Except where noted, these options apply to all clock drivers.

Reference Clock Commands

fudge 127.127.t.u [ time1 secs ] [ time2 secs ] [ stratum int ] [ refid string ] [ mode int ] [ flag1 0 | 1 ] [ flag2 0 | 1 ] [ flag3 0 | 1] [ flag4 0 | 1 ]

This command can be used to configure reference clocks in special ways. It must immediately follow the server command which configures the driver. Note that the same capability is possible at run time using the xntpdc program. The options are interpreted as follows:

time1 secs
Specifies a constant to be added to the time offset produced by the driver, a fixed-point decimal number in seconds. This is used as a calibration constant to adjust the nominal time offset of a particular clock to agree with an external standard, such as a precision PPS signal. It also provides a way to correct a systematic error or bias due to serial port latencies, different cable lengths or receiver internal delay. The specified offset is in addition to the propagation delay provided by other means, such as internal DIPswitches.

time2 secs
Specifies a fixed-point decimal number in seconds, which is interpreted in a driver-dependent way. See the descriptions of specific drivers in the reference clock drivers page.

stratum int
Specifies the stratum number assigned to the driver, an integer between 0 and 15. This number overrides the default stratum number ordinarily assigned by the driver itself, usually zero.

refid string
Specifies an ASCII string of from one to four characters which defines the reference identifier used by the driver. This string overrides the default identifier ordinarily assigned by the driver itself.

mode int
Specifies a mode number which is interpreted in a device-specific fashion. For instance, it selects a dialing protocol in the ACTS driver and a device subtype in the parse drivers.

flag1 flag2 flag3 flag4
These four flags are used for customizing the clock driver. The interpretation of these values, and whether they are used at all, is a function of the particular clock driver. However, by convention, and unless indicated otherwise, flag3 is used to attach the ppsclock streams module to the configured driver, while flag4 is used to enable recording verbose monitoring data to the clockstats file configured with the filegen command. Further information on the ppsclock streams module can be found in the Pulse-per-second (PPS) Signal Interfacing page. Further information on the filegen command can be found in the Monitoring Options page.

David L. Mills (