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5G Applications and Required Electronics Components: What About Clocks?

5G Applications and Required Electronics Components: What About Clocks?

Clock superimposed on images of robotic arm, smartphone signal tower, and more. 5G applications and specifically clock applications will be a big draw in 2020; learn more here at Sourcengine.

There is no doubt that importance of time keeping increased with the advent of human civilization. Estimating time by observing stellar objects in prehistoric times, to sand-clocks in medieval times, and atomic clocks of today, the time keeping was never that precise and important before. We would be correct stating that modern science has given time, the status of a 4th dimension, as it is evident from general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Clocks and time keeping remains an important facet of the scientific and technological advancement in new millennium, that has paved the way for ingenious applications. One of the best examples of clocks and timing module as an electronic component can be found in 5th Generation of telecommunication technology (5G), which is the latest communication standard. Being rolled out at the time of writing this article, 5G is the thriving source and enabler of applications, which are defining how we will remember the earlier decades of the 21st century.

5G infrastructure gear requires special timing devices, clock modules and oscillators with some critical performance parameters, which are as important and needed to be carefully designed as other RF power, passive, actives, mixed-signal analogue and digital parts (each of them requires separate discussion altogether). Electronic parts such as oscillators,  timing modules and clocks for 5G are challenged to comply synchronizations and hold over ranging 1.5 µs to sub ns,  very low phase noise going down to -150dBc, and require very high stability, gentle aging and environmental characteristics, each with allowable changes in sub-part per billion range.

The specialized clocks and timing modules could not only make the 5G networking equipment tick in a reliable and correct manner, but these wonderful electronic components are also needed in accompanying applications stemming out and encompassing 5G, some of which are highlighted below:

Massive MIMO

Massive multiple-input/multiple-output (mMIMO) or very large active antenna array systems is one of the key features of 5G network as it offers a significant increase in through-put and performance improvements as compared with traditional base stations. The synchronization accuracy requirements in mMIMO often start from 65ns and it could go as low sub-ns range. With the help of correct time and synchronisation electronics components, mMIMO can help customer experience holography, gaming, data downloads, and exchange rates which is not possible with any other wireless technology so far.

Autonomous Driving

Although there are RADAR/ LiDAR or combination of multiple sensors present onboard with computational capability to sense, and create intelligence needed for self-driven car, it is still not enough to ensure safety and avoid collision. As part of greater internet of things (IoT) cars needed to be connected to 5G and ideally fed with every possible information such as turning traffic lights, moving cars, objects etc. This must be done in a manner that timing devises/ clocks accounts the difference of 10ms or below to make sure safe reaction and breaking time. Availability of suitable timing modules compatible with 5G standard are on the horizon and automotive qualified solution are expected to be ubiquitous.

Industry 4.0

Advanced robotics and automated guided vehicles (AVGs), along-side networked massive number of control systems in a modern production system, is a perfect use case for timing devices. The required synchronization of machines often lies from ms down to few ns.  Depending upon the critical nature of application such as hazardous waste or nuclear power control, selection of a reliable and accurate timing device and its deployment must be carefully done.


Internet of things (IoT) is not only the name of billions of connected devices around us, but it is encompassing many features of our contemporary world. Smart home, smart city, smart national infrastructure, smart agriculture, smart medical and transportation systems are all manifestation of IoT. Depending upon complexity and requirement of deployment, suitable clock modules are needed which are often as specialized and needed to comply 5G standard requirements.

As technology is constantly evolving, there are always new use cases with emerging new requirements for electronic components, and as the article above illustrates, clocks and timing devices are just couple of examples among many state-of-the-art components needed for 5G related applications. For 5G infrastructure and application, Sourceability can not only help you selecting right oscillator, timing module, or clock,  working with our franchised distribution partners, but we will also be pleased to discuss any other engineering problem associated with your application, and help you select and source solution of your choice. For more information please contact your nearest Sourceability representative.

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