Symmetricom's smarter clock for a smarter grid


By: SGN Staff


By Doug Peeples

SGN News Editor


Equipped with new technologies to enhance their capabilities, today's smart grid substations have much more demanding requirements for their operations than their predecessors. Symmetricom, a well-established precision timing and synchronization company, has just launched its SyncServer SGC-1500 Smart Grid Clock to meet the needs of those advanced substations for real-time network operations.


Symmetricom VP for marketing and business development Manish Gupta told Smart Grid News the point of the smart grid clock is to offer utilities accurate, reliable and secure timing and synchronization in their critical operations.


He referred to San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric, which is participating with Symmetricom in the launch, and the multi-faceted benefits they will gain from its adoption of the SyncServer. Here is a quick summary of the key benefits.


·         The clock's capabilities give the utility the tools to mitigate outages in a matter of hours or minutes rather than days or weeks.

·         Operational efficiency can be boosted from a typical 85% to close to 100%, a plus considering the constant need to balance supply and demand and the uncertainty of renewable power and other similar concerns like EVs.

·         A one microsecond time stamp on the thousands of messages moving across networks provides the accuracy to make it faster and easier to make sense of all that data. It's a real-time view. And phasor measurement units (PMUs) don't have a lot of value without time stamps at that level of accuracy.

·         While GPS will still be a part of networks, the smart grid clock reduces the need for numerous and expensive GPS installations at every substation and PMU. That alone is a significant plus for return on investment considerations.

·         The SyncServer meets primary requirements for smart grid substations, including IEC 61850, the International Electrotechnical Commission's standards for substation automation design which, again, requires microsecond timing to find and fix potential faults - and the standard's electrical hardening requirements.

·         It also meets the requirements of the North American Reliability Corporation's reliability and security standards for Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP), which mandates very strong security protocols.

·         A rubidium atomic clock option provides holdover capacity if GPS is interrupted. Another option is built-in IEEE 1588 v2 Telecom Profile input.

·         It can be deployed at a substation or a central location.


There is more of course, but you get the idea.

SyncServer® SGC-1500 Smart Grid Clock

provides microsecond timing accuracy in

Smart Grid substations for real-time network operations

Symmetricom®, Inc. (NASDAQ: SYMM), a worldwide leader in precision time and frequency technologies, today announced a new timing solution that meets the stringent microsecond accuracy requirements of Smart Grid substations. Specifically designed for substation operations, such as wide area measurement systems, traveling wave fault locators and sampled values, the Symmetricom SyncServer SGC-1500 Smart Grid Clock offers power utility companies accurate, secure and reliable timing and synchronization for their mission-critical operations. This means companies like Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) will be able to mitigate outages with real-time monitoring for grid stress, frequency instability, voltage instability and reliability margins.


The Smart Grid has brought about power technology advancements that fundamentally change substation operations. Power equipment and their data networks are shifting from simple, reactive control and reporting to proactive, real-time management and operations control. Thus, advanced synchronization and timing are now more critical than ever, and it’s precisely what the SGC-1500 Smart Grid Clock is designed to address; enabling power equipment to operate more efficiently and closer to its operational limits. For example, one microsecond accuracy is required by the phasor measurement unit (PMU) for real-time network situational awareness and overall operational efficiency. Without accurate time stamps, PMU data has limited value. For power utility companies, that translates into enhanced network utilization rates as well as smarter management and mixing of renewable and traditional power sources.


"Power and utility companies are increasingly looking to source the latest technology innovations in order to modernize their infrastructure,” said Greg Neichin, executive vice president, Cleantech "Over the past three years, we have tracked more than $700m in venture investment committed to companies developing smart grid products. These are all data-intensive applications that will rely heavily on precise timing and synchronization, as well as more advanced analytics to process these vast streams of new information.”


"The Smart Grid architecture and related standards require a new approach to timing distribution across the overall network,” said Manish Gupta, vice president of marketing and business development for Symmetricom. "Symmetricom brings extensive experience in delivering precise time to the communications, government, and enterprise markets. Serving the power utility telecom network over the past 10 years, Symmetricom is ideally positioned to meet the emerging timing requirements of the Smart Grid.”


The SyncServer SGC-1500 meets key requirements of Smart Grid substations, including:

·         Microsecond accuracy and resiliency â€" referencing GPS satellite signals, the Symmetricom Smart Grid Clock distributes timing with microsecond accuracy over the local area network (LAN) using the IEEE 1588 v2 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) Power Profile or IRIG-B time code.


·         IEC 61850 â€" the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) standards for the design of electrical substation automation, which requires microsecond timing to identify and mitigate a potential fault condition in real time. This standard also identifies important electrical hardening requirements for substation environments.


·         NERC CIP ― the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reliability and security standards for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP), which calls for high strength security protocols.


The SyncServer SGC-1500 comes with additional industry leading capabilities such as a built-in IEEE 1588 v2 Telecom Profile input option. This enables the Smart Grid Clock to derive time from the communications wide area network (WAN), thus eliminating the need to have GPS at every substation and PMU. The Rubidium atomic clock option offers holdover capability in the event of GPS disruption. These options result in a highly cost effective and resilient solution for power utilities.

For more information about the SyncServer SGC-1500 Smart Grid Clock, please visit:

About Symmetricom, Inc.
Symmetricom (NASDAQ:SYMM), a world leader in precise time solutions, sets the world’s standard for time. The company generates, distributes and applies precise time for the communications, aerospace/defense, IT infrastructure and metrology industries. Symmetricom’s customers, from communications service providers and network equipment manufacturers to governments and their suppliers worldwide, are able to build more reliable networks and systems by using the company’s advanced timing technologies, atomic clocks, services and solutions. All products support today’s precise timing standards, including GPS-based timing, IEEE1588 (PTP), Network Time Protocol (NTP), Synchronous Ethernet and DOCSIS® timing. Symmetricom is based in San Jose, Calif., with offices worldwide. For more information, visit: or join the dialogue at