[ntp:questions] how do I lock in average frequency correction

Chuck Swiger cswiger at mac.com
Sun Feb 12 19:03:34 UTC 2012

On Feb 12, 2012, at 9:36 AM, unruh wrote:
> On 2012-02-12, Ron Frazier (NTP) <timekeepingntplist at c3energy.com> wrote:
>> It is my understanding that NTP is continuously making small changes to 
>> the software clock to keep the timing accurate while the os is running.  
>> 95% of the time, my computers are doing the same thing and 95% of the 
>> time, I'm doing the same thing with the computers.  Therefore, over a 
>> long time interval, the interrupt usage should be similar, and over a 
>> long time interval, the correct clock frequency to maintain accuracy 
>> should be similar.
> That above paragraph is not comprehensible to me. Yes, ntp is making
> small changes to the software clock frequency. 
> What does your doing with the computer have to do with interrupt usage?

I also found it a bit difficult to understand the concern being asked, but:

- some operating systems have or had bugs where they will miss timer interrupts and cause the kernel "clock" to run more slowly (ie, a firewall/router running at high packets-per-second and seeing a huge # of network interrupts)

- doing some long, max-CPU activity like "transcoding a movie" will heat up the system and the crystal

> The clock crystal ages, and suffers internal crystal "cracks"
> migrations, etc, which change the frequency of the crystal. Thus even in
> a temperature controlled oven, the crystal frequency will change, but
> much of the crystal frequency change is driven by temperature changes. 

Agreed, temperature swings will have a major impact on the crystal frequency.

>> I also would like to understand how ntp interacts with the Real Time 
>> Clock.  I think I've read that either NTP or the OS (I don't know which) 
> It depends. ntp itself does not intereact with the real time clock at
> all. However, under Linux, if the system clock thinks it is synced, it
> resets te real time clock every 11 min to the system clock. also, in the
> OS, hwclock is run at the end to reset the real time clock to the system
> clock. 

Yes, ntpd does not interact with the hardware TOY/RTC at all.  Whether the system 
itself updates the BIOS/firmware/EFI RTC is both operating system specific and
hardware specific.

>> will save the time to the RTC when shutting down and retrieve the time 
>> from the RTC when booting up.  I'd like to know if this is true, first 
>> of all, and I'd like to know if it makes any corrections to the clock 
>> rate of the RTC so it is more accurate.
> No. it does not, especially with that 11 minute mode, it cannot figure
> out the rate of the clock. If you switch off the 11 min mode, by
> constantly telling the system clock it is not in sync, then you can use
> some versions of hwclock to measure the drift rate of the rtc.
> But there is absolutely no way of altering the rate of the rtc without
> unsoldering your clock crystal from the motherboard and putting in a new
> one, or putting in a trimming capacitor, and adjusting it by hand. 

You might be able to improve the stability of the crystal by ensuring good
airflow and cooling via HVAC as needed.  And I suppose you could adjust the
rate by changing the HVAC set-point, but I don't think the benefit is worth it.

I'd be more likely switch to an OXCO + GPS on a PCI/PCIe card if such as needed.


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