A new economy built on the massive growth of endpoints on the internet will require precise and verifiable timing in ways that current systems do not support. Perhaps the Internet of Things is the core of this new economy. Three aspects of timing that need development are synchronization, processing, and latency. Synchronization describes the delivery of frequency, phase or time from a source to an endpoint. Processing describes the consumption of synchronization. And latency describes the delay from transmission to reception of a number of types of time-sensitive packets.
Synchronization is delivered to users by GPS and GNSS with great accuracy and across wide areas. But there are significant problems, such as jamming, spoofing and the inability to receive the signal indoors. Synchronization is also delivered through networks. But networks have been built to optimize data transfer in ways that severely impede time and frequency transfer. For example, nodes that store and forward data create unpredictable delays that result in poor timing for the endpoints.
State-of-the-art processing systems currently use timing only as a performance metric. Correctness of timing as a metric cannot currently be designed into systems independent of hardware and/or software implementations. Creating processing systems that support precision timing is currently labor intensive, requiring a cycle of designing, building, calibrating, then adjusting hardware and software and re-calibrating repetitively until timing meets requirements.
Time-sensitive data must be delivered with deterministic latencies. Three kinds of time intervals that can be required are 1) delivering packets within a time interval bound, 2) delivering packets with a specific delay, and 3) delivering a packet to arrive at an absolute time. In order to make the delay in delivering such time-sensitive data predictable, management systems must control scheduling and bandwidth.
To enable the massive growth predicted, accurate timing needs cross-disciplinary research to address each of these issues. This talk will suggest some potential solutions to meet these challenges and support the kind of growth we hope for.