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The basics of synchronized Ethernet

Posted: 21 Apr 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Ethernet synchronized? designs SyncE? synchronization Ethernet?

Over the past two decades, Ethernet has become the dominant technology for data transmissionin particular, with telecom and wireless providersdue to its simplicity and low cost. However, the asynchronous nature of Ethernet provides certain transmission challenges.

While there are several ways to achieve synchronization over Ethernet, one gaining momentum is Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE). SyncE uses the physical layer interface to pass timing from node to node in the same way timing is passed in SONET/SDH or T1/E1. This gives telecom and wireless providers confidence that networks based on SyncE will be not only cost-effective, but also as highly reliable as SONET/SDH and T1/E1 based networks.

As interest from carriers and service providers grows, many Ethernet equipment vendors are developing SyncE-enabled equipment targeting this lucrative new market. However, Ethernet equipment designers often lack in-depth understanding of synchronization and may underestimate the complexity of the issue.

A common assumption is synchronization over Ethernet can be achieved merely by replacing the free-running crystal oscillator used for Ethernet Physical Layer Device (PHY) with a general purpose synchronization device (PLL).

Certainly, this is not the case and designs based on such an assumption are destined to fail. This article discusses the basics of SyncE performance, reviews synchronization concepts and requirements and highlights some common design hurdles faced by board designers to help ensure right-first-time SyncE designs.

View the PDF document for more information.

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