Time Synchronization Features

Napatech Link-Capture™ Software Features

Intel® PAC
Napatech SmartNIC
Content Type
Feature Description
Capture Software Version
Link™ Capture Software 12.11

SmartNIC as time master or time slave

The following SmartNICs running Napatech Link-Capture™ Software can only be slave.
  • NT50B01
  • NT40A11
  • Intel® PAC with Intel® Arria® 10 GX FPGA
Other NT SmartNICs can be either master or slave. If the SmartNIC is master, it does not synchronize to an external incoming signal on one of the time synchronization connectors. If the SmartNIC is slave, it synchronizes to an incoming time synchronization signal.

The NT time synchronization protocol

Time synchronization connectors on NT SmartNICs other than NT50B01 can be configured for PPS (pulse-per-second) / TTL (transistor-transistor logic) or for the NT time synchronization protocol. This protocol contains embedded PPS and time information.

Daisy-chaining of NT SmartNICs

NT SmartNICs other than NT50B01 each have two internal time synchronization connectors, which can be used for daisy-chaining time synchronization between multiple SmartNICs installed in the same server/chassis. The NT time synchronization protocol and the PPS protocol can be daisy-chained between SmartNICs.

Time source for a SmartNIC

Control of the internal SmartNIC time depends on whether the SmartNIC is time master or time slave:

  • Time master/host: The host provides the source for the internal SmartNIC time. This source is the host time, which is usually synchronized to the time from an external network time server.
  • Time master/SmartNIC: The SmartNIC runs on its free-running clock and is never adjusted.
  • Time master/PPS: The time source is a PPS signal and optionally the UTC time from an external time device.
  • Time slave: The time source is provided from the external time signal, and the internal SmartNIC time is synchronized to the provided time. The source can be a time master SmartNIC.

Sliding internal SmartNIC time adjust

Minor adjustments to the internal SmartNIC time is done with a sliding adjust, where the time stamp update rate is increased or decreased by a small amount. It is thereby ensured that the time stamp values for received frames show a nice increasing time, without any sudden forward or backward changes in time.

This sliding adjust applies both when the SmartNIC is time slave and time master/host. Sliding adjust can be enabled or disabled from the application.

Initial setting of the internal SmartNIC time can be done by giving a specific value.

Loss of source for synchronization

A bit indicates the current status of synchronization with GPS or another SmartNIC, and a bit indicates if the synchronization is lost. In this case, an entry in the driver log is generated as well.

External and SmartNIC time samples for Napatech equipment

When configured as master and connected to another NT SmartNIC, an NT SmartNIC can provide a synchronized set of external time and SmartNIC time every second. The external time is the time of the other SmartNIC.

The synchronized set of time values can be used as input to application time algorithms.

Note: For NT-TS synchronization, synchronized sets of external time and SmartNIC time can be obtained every 20 μs, depending on the setting of HighFrequencySampling in the ntservice.ini file (see DN-0449).

PPS-triggered SmartNIC time samples in connection with 3rd-party equipment

When a PPS (pulse-per-second) signal from a time device, for instance a GPS, is connected to a time synchronization connector on a master NT SmartNIC, the PPS signal from the time device can trigger the sampling of the SmartNIC time.

For every PPS pulse (one per second) a 64-bit SmartNIC time is sampled. This means that the application has one second to read a sample value.

The PPS-synchronized SmartNIC time values can be used as input to application time algorithms.

For details on PPS time synchronization, see DN-0985.

Synchronization relative to a PPS signal

The NT SmartNIC time stamp clock rate can be synchronized relatively to any external time source with a PPS output at TTL levels.

Synchronization to absolute UTC time

If absolute time information is available, the NT SmartNIC time stamp clock can be synchronized to the absolute UTC time. The pps_endrun tool (see DN-0449) illustrates use with an EndRun Præcis Cf CDMA receiver or an EndRun Præcis II CDMA receiver, the pps_oregano tool (see DN-0449) illustrates use with an Oregano SYN1588 PCIe NIC (IEEE 1588 / PTP), and the pps_symmetricom tool (see DN-0449) illustrates use with a Microsemi SyncServer®.

Synchronized transfer of block statistics

When two or more NT SmartNICs are synchronized with respect to absolute time, block statistics are transferred synchronously from the SmartNICs to the host. This ensures consistent counter sets when handling data from multiple SmartNICs in absolute synchronization.