2017 ISPCS Plugfest & Symposium: 9 Billion Things!

Anand Ram

Calnex was at the 2017 ISPCS Plugfest & Symposium this year. The event started with a Plugfest where multiple vendors plugged and tested their Precision Timing Protocol (PTP or 1588) equipment. This is a valuable open session where vendors and researchers from different communities can perform real-world connections and tests, which contribute to their development and research processes.

We’ve been attending the plugfest for many years now, and always look forward to getting the chance to ‘play’ with our latest PTP test features - this plugfest has always been one of the first places to see new PTP profiles being implemented. The range of applications covered this year was as wide as it has ever been, covering Telecoms, Finance, Utilities and more: in fact it was particularly good to see - and connect to - a range of devices ready to use the current and revised versions of IEEE 802.1AS (gPTP) - and to receive feedback on our latest technical primer for using this PTP profile in Time-Sensitive Networks.

It was also very interesting to see NTP playing a big part at an event usually focussed only on PTP, with the participation of the Network Time Foundation who perform the small role of clocking 9 billion (and growing) things!

The Symposium that followed the Plugfest presented numerous papers covering the challenges and new ideas for the transfer and uses of timing via wired and wireless media. The keynotes were particular highlights, switching back and forth between “here’s hope” and “abandon all hope”. Berkeley’s Dr. Edward Lee proposed that all models are wrong (in his paper on modelling). Dr. Marc Weiss of NIST stated that even two perfect clocks will “go for a phase walk”. Dr. Alex Filippenko (also from Berkeley) who has been part of 2 Noble prize-winning teams, presented new findings about the accelerating expansion of the universe.

My top presentation was from Maciej Lipinski at CERN who presented the story behind their work on developing the White Rabbit technology to transfer accurate time. He eloquently covered the motivation for them to develop the technology and its story so far. My favourite quote (when he explained some of the work CERN was doing) was: “when the accelerators are not doing anything, we use them to make Anti-Hydrogen.” – rather different from how we spend our down-time at Calnex HQ, I must admit...

It also segued nicely into a presentation on the venue of next year’s ISPCS event – CERN on the Swiss/French border. The event will be held at the main CERN campus and as Maciej said will “give you a chance to live at CERN for a week” and give attendees a taste of an organisation that has led so much pioneering research. Can’t wait!

Anand Ram, Calnex Solutions - VP Sales & Marketing

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