MediaSync pp 105-146 | Cite as

Time, Frequency and Phase Synchronisation for Multimedia—Basics, Issues, Developments and Opportunities

  • Hugh Melvin
  • Jonathan Shannon
  • Kevin Stanton


In this chapter, we provide a comprehensive overview of timing. We describe the underlying concepts that comprise timing through examples and then present a range of mature, standardised and evolving techniques to improve the so-called time awareness across the full Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure over which multimedia applications operate. Although the media synchronisation community is already acutely aware of timing issues, this chapter offers some valuable insights through its holistic approach to timing.


Timing Time awareness Time synchronisation protocols Time-sensitive networking 




an instant (or time of day) on a selected time-scale.


a family of time codes for a particular coordinate time that provide an unambiguous time ordering of events.

Time synchronisation

relative adjustment of two or more sources of time with the purpose of cancelling their time differences.


refers to a rate of repetition (of an event) per unit of time and thus two clocks are frequency synchronised if they oscillate at the exact same rate.


the relative adjustment of two or more frequency sources with the purpose of cancelling their frequency differences but not necessarily their phase difference.

Time Awareness

the extent to which a device, system or device/system model has an appropriate ability to sense and respond to timing signals/information.


  1. 1.
    Glossary and Definitions of Time and Frequency Terms, Recommendation ITU-R TF.686-3 (12/2013)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Weiss, M., Eidson, J., Barry, C., Broman, D., Goldin, L., Iannucci, B., Lee, E.A., Stanton, K.: Time-Aware Applications, Computers, and Communication Systems (TAACCS). NIST Technical Note 1867. NIST, National Institute of Standards and Technology,, U.S. Department of Commerce, Feb 2015
  3. 3.
    Zhao, Y., Liu, J., Lee, E.A.: A programming model for time-synchronized distributed real-time systems. In: 13th IEEE Real Time and Embedded Technology and Applications Symposium, 2007. RTAS ’07, Apr 2007, pp. 259–268.
  4. 4.
    Zou, J., Matic, S., Lee, E.: PtidyOS: a lightweight microkernel for Ptides real-time systems. In: Real-Time and Embedded Technology and Applications Symposium (RTAS). IEEE (2012)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stanton, K.: Semantics and Software APIs for the Efficient Use of Time in Time Sensitive Systems Using General Purpose Compute Hardware. WSTS, Calif (2015)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Beloqui, L., Boronat, F., Montagud, M., Melvin, H.: Understanding timelines within MPEG standards. IEEE Commun. Surv. Tutorials 18(1), 368–400 (2016)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    A. E. Society: AES67-2015: AES Standard for Audio Applications of Networks—High-Performance Streaming Audio-Over-IP Interoperability. AES, New York (2014)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    IEEE: Standard for a precision clock synchronization protocol for networked measurement and control systems. IEEE Std 1588-2008 (Revision of IEEE Std 1588-2002), pp. c1–269 (2008).
  9. 9.
    IEEE: IEEE 1722—Layer 2 Transport Protocol Working Group for Time-Sensitive Streams.
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
    Romer, K., Blum, P., Meier, L.: Time Synchronization and Calibration in Wireless Sensor Networks, pp. 199–237. Wiley, Hoboken, NJ (2005)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kopetz, H., Ochsenreiter, W.: Clock synchronization in distributed real-time systems. IEEE Trans. Comput. C-36(8), 933–940 (1987). ISSN 0018-9340.
  13. 13.
    Mills, D.L.: Internet time synchronization: the network time protocol. IEEE Trans. Commun. 39(10), 1482–1493 (1991). ISSN 0090-6778.
  14. 14.
    Elson, J., Girod, L., Estrin, D.; Fine-grained network time synchronization using reference broadcasts. ACM SIGOPS Oper. Syst. Rev. 36(SI), 147–163 (2002)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ganeriwal, S., Kumar, R., Srivastava, M.B.: Timing-sync protocol for sensor networks. In Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems, SenSys ’03, New York, NY, USA, pp. 138–149. ACM (2003). ISBN 1-58113-707-9.
  16. 16.
    Maroti, M., Kusy, B., Simon, G., Ledeczi, A.: The flooding time synchronization protocol. In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems, SenSys ’04, New York, NY, USA, pp. 39–49. ACM (2004). ISBN 1-58113-879-2.
  17. 17.
    TinyOS WG. Tinyos, Apr 2016.
  18. 18.
    Mills, D.L.: Improved algorithms for synchronizing computer network clocks. IEEE/ACM Trans. Netw. (TON) 3(3):245–254 (1995)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Mills, D.L.: Computer Network Time Synchronization: The Network Time Protocol, 1st edn. CRC Press (2006). ISBN 978-0849358050Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Mills, D.L.: Network time protocol (version 3) specification, implementation and analysis (1992)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mills, D.L.: Precision synchronization of computer network clocks. ACM SIGCOMM Comput. Commun. Rev. 24(2):28–43 (1994)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Eidson, J.C.: Measurement, Control, and Communication Using IEEE 1588 (Advances in Industrial Control). Springer (2006). ISBN 978-1846282508Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Eidson, J.C., Lee, K.: IEEE 1588 standard for a precision clock synchronization protocol for networked measurement and control systems. In: Sensors for Industry Conference, 2002. 2nd ISA/IEEE, pp. 98–105. IEEE (2002)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    ITU-T Rec. G.8261, ITU-T Rec. G.8262, ITU-T Rec. G.8264Google Scholar
  25. 25.
  26. 26.
    Time Sensitive Networking Task Group.
  27. 27.
    IEEE: Status of IEEE 802.11 TGmc.
  28. 28.
  29. 29.
  30. 30.
    Frank, A., Weisberg, P.: Operating Systems—Structure of Operating SystemsGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Eidson, J.C., Stanton, K.B.: Timing in cyber physical systems: the last inch problem. In: International Symposium on Precision Clock Synchronization for Measurement Control and Communications (ISPCS), pp. 19–24 (2015)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
  33. 33.
    Olsen, D.: Time Accuracy Requirements in Audio Networks (2007)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceNational University of IrelandGalwayRepublic of Ireland
  2. 2.Intel CorporationSanta ClaraUSA

Personalised recommendations