Atomic Clock Keeps Precise Time Where Satellite Signals Are Blocked

Commercial timing product performs autonomous time keeping, overcoming glitches on GNSS networks.

Spencer Chin, Senior Editor

June 12, 2023

2 Min Read
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Microchip’s 5071B cesium atomic clock performs autonomous time keeping for months, mitigating any issues with GNSS network disruptions. Microchip

Applications ranging from mobile phones to banking to defense missions often rely on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to precisely synchronize timing in order to safeguard and process data. However, GNSS is susceptible to jamming and spoofing attacks. To provide multiple industries a long-term and precise timing and frequency solution, Microchip Technology  has announced the 5071B cesium atomic clock, which can perform autonomous time keeping for months in the event of GNSS denials.

Microchip’s 5071B atomic clock is the next-generation commercial cesium clock to the existing 5071A atomic clock, which has long been a key contributor to international time. The 5071B atomic clock is available in a three-unit height (3U) 19-inch rackmount enclosure, providing a compact product to work in environments where it can be easily transported and secured versus a larger alternative designed specifically for laboratory environments.

Protects 5G Networks

The 5071B atomic clock has upgraded electronic components to address possible obsolescence or non-RoHS circuitry. The product provides 100 ns holdover for more than two months, maintaining system synchronization when GNSS signals like GPS are denied. For example, this capability would enable a 5G network to remain fully operational for months without GNSS.

“The 5071A has been the world’s premier time and frequency standard for decades. With the upgraded 5071B, Microchip continues its position as the industry leader in complex timing solutions,” said Randy Brudzinski, vice president, Microchip’s frequency and time systems business unit, in a statement. “Our customers can rely on the 5071B’s technology for years to come and implement a timing and frequency solution with confidence in continuity of supply and modern components, which eliminates obsolescence concerns.”

As a cesium beam tube product with no deterministic long-term frequency drift, the 5071B achieves absolute frequency accuracy of 5E-13 or 500 quadrillionths over all specified environmental conditions for the life of the product. For military applications requiring rapid deployments for system radars, 5E-13 stability eliminates the need to acquire synchronization sources prior to radiating. In satellite communications, this enables the user to broadcast and transmit over very small frequency bands without drifting out of band for the entire duration of the product.

Helping Air Traffic Control

Another potential application for the atomic clock is air traffic communications. A product like the 5071B could maintain and better synchronize the critical communication between an aircraft and control tower. Air traffic control in the United States utilizes the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) to precisely locate the position of aircraft across the nation’s airspace. The 5071B atomic clock’s long-term stability enables more accurate locations and continued operation during GNSS outages.

The 5071B atomic clock fully complies with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), making this product available in regions where regulatory policies are in place. 

Development Tools

The 5071B cesium atomic clock is supported by Clockstudio Software Tool to control and monitor data.



About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News, covering the electronics beat, which includes semiconductors, components, power, embedded systems, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and other related subjects. He is always open to ideas for coverage. Spencer has spent many years covering electronics for brands including Electronic Products, Electronic Buyers News, EE Times, Power Electronics, and electronics360. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him at @spencerchin.

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