Home Source code Facebook chooses u-blox timing to speed up data centers

Facebook chooses u-blox timing to speed up data centers


Facebook has opened up its timecard design, which features the ultra-precise u-blox ZED-F9T timing module, providing easy access to nanosecond level timing.

Photo: u-blox

Facebook chose the u-blox ZED-F9T GNSS receiver module for timing, according to u-blox. By improving the synchronization of networked computers, Facebook’s time card can dramatically speed up the performance of its data centers and distributed databases.

By making their designs publicly available, Facebook has boosted adoption of highly accurate timing solutions based on u-blox technology. These solutions can be adopted by other industries requiring nanosecond level synchronization, such as 5G cellular networks or smart grids.

Facebook set out to create an accurate sync solution that reduces the computational overhead required when syncing sync between different computers on a network, u-blox said. The social media company used the ZED-F9T multiband au-blox GNSS receiver to synchronize its solution with the high-precision GNSS atomic clocks. To fill possible gaps in GNSS coverage and minimize clock drift, the time card contains a backup timing source: a miniaturized atomic clock constantly synchronized with GNSS time.

To maximize the impact of the solution, Facebook has decided to open-source design of its time card, which fits on a PCIe form factor. Anyone with experience in microelectronics can turn any PC built on an x86 architecture and equipped with a network interface controller into an accurate nano-scale timing and timing solution, said u-blox.

Easy access to nanosecond timing accuracy – u-blox based RCB-F9T timing card, which houses the u-blox ZED-F9T GNSS receiver – opens up new avenues in industrial segments that rely on highly synchronized signals, such as 5G network base stations which require tighter synchronization than those of previous generations, u-blox said.

As electricity distribution networks become more complex to accommodate an increasing share of decentralized renewable energy, they increasingly depend on reliable and accurate timing solutions. Data centers and IT networks will be able to modernize infrastructure management to accelerate performance and reduce latencies.

Facebook shared the GitHub repository including specifications, schematics, mechanics, nomenclature, and source code in partnership with the Open Compute Project (OCP) under the Time Appliance Project (TAP).


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