Timing is not just for traders anymore, networks need it too


The past few years have seen low-latency networking get a lot of attention, driven primarily by high-frequency traders looking for an edge for their algorithms. However, the importance of communication latency and timing accuracy in general isn’t new. From the dawn of homo sapiens, when cave people first scratched lunar cycles on their cave walls, to the birth of telecommunications, accurately knowing what time it is has been important — for people and for networks.

Yet, in the move to packetized information, and the internet as we know it, timing got left behind. In a fatal mix of both enthusiasm and arrogance, synchronous timing was seen as irrelevant. After all, the world was moving to asynchronous packetized information switched by routers. Why would anyone still need old-fashioned synchronous information? Ma Bell was dead. And what did she know anyway? Fast forward to today and the current standard Network Time Protocol

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