[ntp:questions] Re: Mother Of All Clocks

Richard B. Gilbert rgilbert88 at comcast.net
Fri Mar 25 19:38:29 UTC 2005

Marc Brett wrote:

>On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 16:54:35 +0100, Heiko Gerstung
><heiko.gerstung_removeme_ at meinberg.de> wrote:
>>Hi Guys,
>>just something to check out for the weekend. We recently built an 
>>individual system which could be described as the first NTP blade server 
>>available (the name refers to an internal joke, so you should not take 
>>it too seriously :-)). It can be equipped with up to 33 autonomous time 
>>server modules each running NTP 4.20a under Linux (Nanokernel) and 
>>taking its time from a hybrid GPS and DCF77 receiver system.
>>If you find this "monster" interesting, you can find some informations 
>>and fotos at http://www.meinberg.de/english/products/moac.htm ...
>Sheesh!  What kind of client needs that sort of time security?  How much damage
>would result if the time were wrong?  How was upper management convinced to
>shell out the big bucks for this solution?  The typical response from most
>techies and managers I've approached has been "why do we need that?" and "ok,
>I'll humour you and install NTP, but our time will come from the Internet,
>because it's free."
>Meinberg would be doing the world a favour by publishing a detailed explanation
>about WHY we might need need a behemoth like this.  It's not obvious to the
>average beancounter.
Well, it's clearly overkill for most users!  Some industries, however, 
are under strict government regulation and must maintain the accuracy of 
their timestamps come what may.  If you might be faced with a million 
dollars in fines and legal expenses for having your clock off by ten 
milliseconds this might be just what the doctor ordered! 

Time stamps on securities transactions, for example, can have large 
effects on tax bills; profits on the sale of securities held for less 
than six months (in the US) are taxed as short term capital gains and 
those held more than six months are taxed as long term capital gains 
which get something like a fifty percent discount on taxes!   Ten 
milliseconds might make all the difference!

I don't know what the exact requirement for accuracy is but since the 
technology is available to anyone and is relatively inexpensive it might 
be reasonable to require much greater accuracy than +/- ten milliseconds.

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