06 Nov 2018

Precision Timing and Reference Frequency

Accurate clock and frequency generation based on satellite positioning technology.

In addition to positioning and navigation applications, GNSS signals are widely used as low‑cost precision time or frequency references used by remote or distributed wireless communication, industrial, financial, and power‑distribution equipment. By capitalizing on atomic clocks which are onboard positioning satellites, GNSS signals which contain embedded timing information can be used to synchronize equipment to within few nanoseconds, as well as provide accurate UTC time. For wireless communication networks, a precision time reference is mandatory. For these and other systems, GNSS signals are utilized to provide an accurate reference frequency to within 5 parts per billion. 


GNSS satellites and receivers

u‑blox’s range of precision timing modules are able to fulfill this important reference function for a fraction of the cost, power consumption, maintenance, size and weight of other technologies with comparable performance. The stand‑alone products provide accurate time pulses wherever GNSS signals are available, as well as precise disciplined frequency references with hold‑over.

All of u‑blox’s precision timing products benefit from the company’s extensive applications experience and advanced technologies including:

  • Fast satellite acquisition by u‑blox’s intelligent signal capture algorithms
  • Location‑independent clock synchronization, even when only one satellite is in view
  • Weak‑signal optimization, interference removal and multi‑path mitigation allowing a small, low cost GPS antenna to be used indoors or within machinery
  • Flexible GNSS‑synchronised time‑pulse outputs at user‑defined frequencies aligned to GNSS time or UTC

Frequency‑Time modules and reference designs add:

  • Disciplined internal or external master reference oscillators with automatic hold‑over
  • Time‑pulse inputs and message‑based APIs for integration with host‑based sources of synchronization

The latest timing modules of the u‑blox multi-band high precision GNSS receiver platform provide L1/L2/L5 GNSS reception to the most demanding timing applications. This technology delivers nanosecond-level timing accuracy and meets even the most stringent 5G requirements. Concurrent reception of all global and local navigation satellite systems, ionosphere error mitigation, and advanced security and integrity features pave the path for next generation timing applications.

For more information, download the u-blox whitepaper "Accurate timing for the IoT".

Samples of u-blox precision timing modules and evaluation kit can be ordered via our distributors.