NTP servers and the network time protocol
NTP Server systems utilise the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to synchronise the system time of computers. NTP was developed to overcome the undesired effects of network delays in time distribution.
Network Time Protocol is one of the oldest network protcols in use. Originally it was developed in 1985 by Dave Mills of the University of Dellaware, who still maintains it conjunction with a number of volunteers.
NTP version 4, the latest release, can maintain accuracies of <200 microseconds on local are networks and <10 milliseconds over the internet.
Network Time Protocol utilises a heirachical stratum system. Stratum 1 devices are synchronised to a highly accurate external clock. Stratum 2 devices derive their time from Stratum 1 devices, and so on.
A simplified and much less complex version of NTP is available called Simple Network Time Protocol ( SNTP ). Simple Network Time Protocol utilises the same packets as NTP for time interchange, but lacks the complexities of NTP to maintain an accurate time. SNTP is intended for embedded applications with memory constraints or where accuracy is much less important.
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