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The network time protocol

2 min read

Hallo vrienden,

the internet time protocol (NTP) is the basis of time synchronization in computer networks. This weeks paper explains the design principles behind it. As the paper is form 1991 you will find some old tech (e.g. dial-up modems) mentioned 😀 Quite interesting that apparently there is a radio signal broadcasting UTC time, I will research if that is still available today and present it to you next week. (Maybe I can finally use my SDR for that)


This paper describes the Network Time Protocol (NTP), which is designed to distribute time information in a large, diverse internet system operating at speeds from mundane to light wave. It uses a symmetric architecture in which a distributed subnet of time servers operating in a self-organizing,hierarchical configuration synchronizes local clocks within the subnet and to national time standards via wire, radio or calibrated atomic clock. The servers can also redistribute time information within a network via local routing algorithms and time daemons.This paper also discusses the architecture, protocol and algorithms, which were developed over several years of implementation refinement and resulted in the designation of NTP as an Internet Standard protocol. The NTP synchronization system, which has been in regular operation in theInternet for the last several years, is described along with performance data which shows that time keeping accuracy throughout most portions of the Internet can be ordinarily maintained to within a few milliseconds, even in cases of failure or disruption of clocks, time servers or networks.

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It would be awesome if you could help growing our little paper community even more by sharing it with your circles (you can also @eu_frey me on Twitter for retweets :D):

If you have any paper recommendation for me, please do not hesitate to approach me via [email protected] (Please keep the Backend & DevOps topic focus in mind)

With much love,
Simon Frey