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What is an IEEE 1588 system?
An IEEE 1588 system is a collection of IEEE 1588 Clocks configured in such a way that all of the clocks synchronize with each other to maintain a consistent timescale. The system shown on the IEEE 1588 home page illustrates a typical measurement and control system in which most of the components contain 1588 clocks. As illustrated the system is segmented into two subnets by the router. In an IEEE 1588 system, cross-subnet synchronization is achieved by means of IEEE 1588 Boundary Clocks.
IEEE 1588 allows the clocks in the system components to synchronize to a high degree of accuracy. Sub-microsecond accuracy is easily achievable using low cost, small footprint implementations. IEEE 1588 can be implemented using a variety of communication technologies.
How are the synchronized clocks used?
The clocks in an IEEE 1588 system are typically used to coordinate the activities of the primary applications executing on the system. For example, sensor data may be time stamped at the source. Since all clocks are synchronized, the time stamped data may be correlated in post acquisition operations. The clocks may also be used in initiating actions in one or more components based on the times of the local clocks. For example an actuator could be commanded to change its value at time T and a sensor to measure a value at time T+delta. Since the clocks are synchronized the resulting actions are coordinated in time.