[ntp:questions] Slow convergence of NTP with GPS/PPS

Unruh unruh-spam at physics.ubc.ca
Sat Oct 25 19:10:10 UTC 2008

"Richard B. Gilbert" <rgilbert88 at comcast.net> writes:

>Unruh wrote:
>> "Richard B. Gilbert" <rgilbert88 at comcast.net> writes:
>>> Hal Murray wrote:
>>>>> It's the poll interval of ntpd.  Ntpq does not poll!  The poll interval 
>>>>> varies between 2^MINPOLL and 2^MAXPOLL.  You have set MINPOLL=MAXPOLL=4 
>>>>> giving a poll interval of 2^4 or 16 seconds.  This is usually the 
>>>>> correct choice for a GPS receiver.
>>>> Why do you say that?  
>>> Because the GPS time signal is extremely accurate!
>>>> Or let me ask it another way, how would you
>>>> decide what the right polling interval is?
>>> NTPD uses much longer poll intervals over the internet or even over a 
>>> local network because of the variable delays introduced by the network. 
>>>  No two packets are guaranteed the same path between two points unless 
>>> there IS only one path.  In addition to the variations in travel time 
>>> due to differing paths, there are also variable queuing delays!
>> No. The longer poll intervals are mainly about keeping packets off the servers. In
>> principle it is always better to poll more. (in practice with the ntp
>> model, this is only partially true-- you want the 8 times the poll interval
>> to be close tothe Allan minimum if the noise model really is exponential
>> phase and 1/f drift noise. ( on most modern networks not the greatest
>> assumption-- day to night temp variations are probably more important for
>> the frequency noise). 

>ntp presents a very light load on the servers unless you have some 
>idiots polling at two second intervals (other than an initial burst at 

>The longer poll intervals allow ntpd to measure small errors very 

If you want good time, use short polls. If you want good frequency, use
long polls. ntp tries to strike a balance by having the poll interval be
roughly the minimum of the Allan variance. But since it assumes, rathr than
measures the location of that minimum, it is pretty useless for any real
life situation. Thus, If you have continuous connectivity to the server,
short poll intervals will give you the best time ( but not the best
frequency) If you occasionally loose connectivity for some period, then the
lack of good freq will hurt you as the time will drift off too fast. 
Longer poll intervals thus allow you to measure frequency drifts more
accurately, but if you have continuous connectivity, why do you care if you
know the drift rate accurately?

The primary reason for long poll intervals is not to swamp the public
servers. -- while one packet is not too bad, 10^6 packets pers second
because of for example a very badly designed router which has your server's
address hardwired in totally swamps your connction. 

So, if it is your own server which only you use, poll as often as you wish.
If it is someone elses, don't.

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