Synchronization


Synchronization

Synchronization is timekeeping which requires the coordination of events to operate a system in unison. The familiar conductor of an orchestra serves to keep the orchestra in time.

Systems operating with all their parts in synchrony are said to be synchronous or in sync.

Firefighters marching in a parade

Some systems may be only approximately synchronized, or plesiochronous. For some applications relative offsets between events need to be determined, for others only the order of the event is important.

Today, synchronization can occur on a global basis due to GPS-enabled timekeeping systems.

Contents

Transport

Apart from its use for navigation (see John Harrison), synchronization was not important in transportation until the nineteenth century, when the coming of the railways made travel fast enough for the differences in local time between adjacent towns to be noticeable (see [1]).

In some territories, sharing of single railroad tracks was controlled by the timetable. Thus strict timekeeping was a safety requirement. To this day, railroads can communicate and signal along their tracks, independently of other systems for safety.

Communication

The lessons of timekeeping are part of engineering technology. In electrical engineering terms, for digital logic and data transfer, a synchronous object requires a clock signal. Timekeeping technologies such as the GPS satellites and Network time protocol (NTP) provide real-time access to a close approximation to the UTC timescale, and are used for many terrestrial synchronization applications.

Synchronization is an important concept in the following fields:

Synchronization has several subtly distinct sub-concepts:

Some uses of synchronization

  • Film synchronization of image and sound in sound film.
  • Synchronization is important in fields such as digital telephony, video and digital audio where streams of sampled data are manipulated.
  • In electric power systems, alternator synchronization is required when mulitple generators are connected to an electrical grid.
  • Arbiters are needed in digital electronic systems such as microprocessors to deal with asynchronous inputs. There are also electronic digital circuits called synchronizers that attempt to perform arbitration in one clock cycle. Synchronizers, unlike arbiters, are prone to failure. (See metastability in electronics).
  • Encryption systems usually require some synchronization mechanism to ensure that the receiving cipher is decoding the right bits at the right time,,
  • Automotive transmissions contain synchronizers which allow the toothed rotating parts (gears and splined shaft) to be brought to the same rotational velocity before engaging the teeth.
  • Time codes are often used as a means of synchronization in film, video, and audio applications.
  • Flash photography, see Flash synchronization

See also

MontreGousset001.jpg Time portal

In the field of video and audio engineering:

In the field of aircraft gun engineering:

Order synchronization and related topics:

Compare with:

Notes


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