Keeping time has been a part of human existence for over 5,000 years. Now, in the digital era, keeping track of time has extended even to our computer networks. If you’ve ever wondered how time is able to remain consistent across a computer system, than know that it’s due to the work of several Internet protocols, primarily Network Time Protocol (or NTP), and Precision Time Protocol (or PTP). These time servers both work to keep network clocks on computers working in sync, but they are not identical. This article will look at some of the key differences between NTP and PTP.
- NTP and PTP were Established at Different Times: One of the chief differences between NTP and PTP is that they were established at different times. NTP is one of the oldest Internet protocols being used today, having been established since before 1985. PTP, in contrast, was originally defined and standardized in 2002.
- NTP Clock Uses Software While PTP Clock Uses Hardware: Another difference between the NTP clock and the PTP clock is that they use different means to operate. More specifically, the NTP clock runs on a periodically updated software while the PTP clock uses hardware to operate.
- NTP and PTP Seek to Measure Time at Different Levels: A third difference between NTP and PTP is that each protocol ultimately seeks to measure time at different levels. For example, NTP operates at the millisecond while PTP seeks to operate all the way down to the nanosecond. While most system clocks can run perfectly well at the millisecond level, some users prefer the most precise measure of time possible, and to that end use PTP which measures at the nanosecond or smaller if possible.
In conclusion, there are several differences between the NTP time server and the PTP time server. These differences include the fact that NTP and PTP were established several decades apart, with NTP being established first. Also, the NTP clock uses software to run while PTP uses hardware. And finally, NTP and PTP measure time at different levels. These are just a few of the differences between the NTP clock and the PTP clock. But despite the differences between them, both protocols are a reliable means of keeping time on computer systems.