APC provides time synchronisation for data centre

APC provides time synchronisation for data centre

APC Time provides data centre with accurate timing synchronisation and distribution solution

Increasingly data centres are being asked to provide accurate time and frequency synchronisation solutions for their customers. Following recent legislative changes, this is particularly relevant to data centres with financial customers.

In January 2018, European-wide MiFID II regulations came into force aiming to improve financial trading transparency. Within the regulations RTS 25 requires those undertaking financial transactions and high-frequency trading to synchronise their trading networks within a fix variance from universal coordinated time (UTC).

Our client, a leading European data centre provider with 45 centres in key European cities, required a complete time and frequency synchronisation solution to meet the requirements for large corporate finance customers and provide a level of accuracy of business clocks and time stamping for future customers.

Our solution

Usually, for data centres a dedicated GNSS/GPS feed has to be provided for each customer so that UTC synchronised equipment can provide accurate timestamps. Furthermore, data centres are often broken down into discreet customer-specific rooms or zones that provide a further level of security for each customer and contain unique assets for the user. A large data centre can have many customer rooms or zones all needing their own UTC supply and specific timing requirements.

APC Time worked in partnership with ViaLite, experts in RF over fibre, and a leading systems integrator to deliver a complete time and frequency synchronisation solution.

Taking a GNSS/ GPS signal, typically from a roof top, and distributing it out to many rooms or zones can create a number of design challenges. The roof can become crowded with individual antennas, so the ideal is to install a single main antenna with the possibility of a second back-up antenna. GNSS/GPS signals are very small, even with active amplification in the antenna. It can therefore be problematic to route small, high frequency signals (~1.5GHz / L1 / L2 band) over 50+ metres. Even when using low loss coax, the attenuation can cause the loss of signal to the receiver.

Working with the system integrator and ViaLite, APC Time designed in Meinberg GPS converters, splitter and Lantime/M1000/ IMS system in order to provide a timing and distribution solution that met the strict regulatory requirements and utilised an Vialite RF over fibre optic distribution system.

As a result, the solution distributed both native GPS (@ L1/ L2 band) and Meinberg GPS IF (@35MHz) from a single antenna to all of the data centre’s enclosures/ zones.

The benefits

  • Reduced RF signal optical losses – fibre cable offers just 0.4dB / km @ 1310 nm, which is considerably less than coax RF cable. This is particularly important for routing the GPS native signals.
  • Increased security – Fibre technology offers a more secure solution which is resilient to external tampering.
  • Smaller footprint – single mode fibre optic cable has a considerably smaller footprint and is more versatile for routing in buildings.
  • Reduced time delays – Vialite offer just 4.5ns per conversion stage, which is well within the timing budget needed to be kept within the UTC synchronisation requirement.

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