Zen And The Art Of Network Timestamping

A look at the applications that use timestamps and the challenges involved in implementing them.


Network devices, namely switches and routers, are used for forwarding data packets from their source to their destination – or at least that is what they are meant to do. In practice, these devices tend to do a lot more than that. They can be involved in Quality of Service (QoS) enforcement, filtering, load balancing, fault detection, performance measurement, event logging and various other activities. Increasingly these functions require accurate timing references and, as a result, the constituent network devices must be able to support timestamps.

Timestamps are employed in network devices for various purposes – measuring network delays and performance monitoring being among the most common of these. In addition, timestamps are attached to packets for sampling and analysis purposes. Timestamps are also used in logs and reports to record the time of occurrence for events. In the last few years network timestamping has seen greater uptake. This has been driven by the emergence of more accurate time synchronization technology, along with the introduction of the IEEE 1588 synchronization protocol.

This white paper briefly discusses some of the major applications that require network timestamping. It will look at the challenges of implementing network timestamping and what needs to be done to overcome these. Then it will introduce Marvell’s generic and flexible approach to network timestamping and the benefits that this will have as timestamping continues to develop as an art form.

To read more, click here.

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