30.03.2021 change 30.03.2021

Time interval generation now more precise

Standard time interval generator. Credit: Dominik Sondej Standard time interval generator. Credit: Dominik Sondej

Programmable logic devices are used in data processing centres, quantum computers, computer networks and 5G. Dr. Paweł Kwiatkowski from the Military University of Technology has developed a converter that converts a digital value into very precise time intervals, and at the same time makes it possible to save the logical resources of a programmable logic device.

The development of microelectronics allows scientists to fit more and more logical resources into one integrated circuit. Some programmable systems are particularly useful, as their configuration can be changed many times, even during operation. Such systems contain many additional functional blocks. These blocks can support, for example, a generation of clock signals of different frequencies, data storage or performing arithmetic operations.

Digital signal processing (DSP) blocks can remove noise from the signal or extract important information from data sets in real time, directly in the integrated circuit.

In an article published in March 16 in the journal Measurement, Dr. Kwiatkowski proposed an unusual configuration of the DSP block, which enables the generation of time intervals with high resolution: 0.000,000,000,009 parts of a second.

The researcher said that the time periods produced are in fact not constant, but their length oscillates around the set value. The measure of these 'oscillations' is called time interval jitter. Conducted experiments have shown that the proposed method provides much less jitter than other known solutions based on programmable logic devices. The researcher adds that the converter saves the basic logical resources of the system - programmable logic blocks.

The system, patent pending, can be used in new solutions of high-precision time interval generators, pattern generators and timing systems used in specialized research laboratories and in industry. It can also be an element of time signal processing systems implemented in programmable logic devices.

The Department of Digital Technology of the Institute of Communications Systems of the Faculty of Electronics has been developing time and frequency measuring devices for many years. The converter described in the article allows for more accurate calibration of the time counters developed by the Military University of Technology. 

For more details, see the source article: 'Digital-to-time converter for test equipment implemented using FPGA DSP blocks'.

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