Precision Time Protocol is paving the road to the metaverse

November 20, 2022

Meta is deploying Precision Time Protocol (PTP) into its data center networks. PTP offers a new level of timing accuracy and precision that will benefit all our technologies — whether people are creating and watching Reels on Facebook and Instagram, sending and receiving messages and making audio/video calls on Messenger, playing and watching games on Facebook Gaming, or building and exploring Meta Horizon Worlds. 

We believe PTP will become the standard for keeping time in computer networks and that it will be a foundational component of the technologies that will drive the metaverse. PTP has already been heavily supported by the telecom industry as networks transition to 5G connectivity. Even though the telecom industry has been using PTP for over a decade, hyperscale data centers have been slow to adopt PTP — until now. To help support industry adoption of PTP, Meta has open-sourced all the hardware and software it has designed to support PTP.

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Why it matters:

Everything you do online — whether you’re sending a text message, posting on social media, streaming music or movies, or even playing games — relies on multiple servers, sometimes spread across multiple locations, all keeping accurate and precise time with one another. If these servers are out of sync, it can lead to delays and errors, or even network failures.

As computer networks grow larger and more complex, so do network latency and lag. Mitigating this is going to become even more important as we continue to develop the next generation of computing platforms and the metaverse, all of which will require us to bring new and even more demanding systems online.

PTP allows for clocks within servers to be synchronized down to nanoseconds. We believe that, among its other applications, PTP has the potential to enable synchronization of GPUs across data centers, which could open up unprecedented scale in AI capabilities that is difficult to achieve today. This level of accuracy will help ensure synchronization of not only the computers on our networks today but also the advanced systems that will be on our networks in the future.

Take a deeper dive:

PTP: Timing accuracy and precision for the future of computing

How Precision Time Protocol is being deployed at Meta

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