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IEEE 1588


Kang Lee

General Information:
301 975 6602 Telephone
301 990 3851 Facsimile

100 Bureau Drive,
M/S 8220
Gaithersburg, MD


  • What kind of communication networks does IEEE 1588 support?

    IEEE 1588 is designed to run on message based communication technologies that support multicast communications. IEEE 1588 assumes that a message initiated by any node will be received by all other nodes in a defined address space. IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet) is an ideal network technology for supporting 1588. There are other candidate networks technologies such as IEEE1394, LonTalkTM, and several technologies used in industrial automation.

    Prototype implementations of IEEE 1588 have been proven on both Ethernet and LonTalk.

    IEEE 1588 defines a network neutral protocol enabling the synchronization of clocks. For each candidate network it is expected that an annex to 1588 will be provided that defines network specific aspects such as 1588 relevant packet formats, addressing and parameters. The initial version of the standard includes an annex, Annex D, containing the specifications for implementing IEEE 1588 on Ethernet.  


  • What is the role of the 1588 clock?

    The 1588 clock typically is used in a sensor component in one of two ways:

    • To generate a timestamp at the moment the data is acquired, or
    • As a mechanism to generate the acquisition trigger by comparing the time of the 1588 clock to a specified 'trigger time' provided to the component as part of the application.

    Since 1588 clocks in all system components will be synchronized to a specified uncertainty, data or actions of system components based on these clocks will also be synchronized according to the application specifications.