Clock compensation for Gigabit Ethernet is necessary because the clock recovered from the 1.25 Gb/s serial data stream has the potential to be 200 ppm slower or faster than the system clock. The serial data is converted to 10-bit parallel data at a 125 MHz rate on a clock recovered from the serial data stream. This recovered data needs to be processed by a system clock that is also running at a nominal rate of 125 MHz, but not synchronous to the recovered clock. To cross clock domains, an asynchronous FIFO (first-in-first-out) is used, with the write pointer (wprt) in the recovered clock domain and the read pointer (rptr) in the system clock domain. Because the clocks are generated from separate sources, there is potential for FIFO overflow or underflow.

Clock compensation in Gigabit Ethernet is possible by taking advantage of the protocol data stream features. There are two distinct data streams that occur in Gigabit Ethernet where identical data is transmitted for a period of time. The first is configuration, which happens during auto-negotiation. The second is idle, which occurs at the end of auto-negotiation and between every packet. The identical data in the FIFO can be repeated by decrementing the read pointer, thus compensating for a FIFO that is draining too fast. The identical data in the FIFO can also be skipped by incrementing the read pointer, which compensates for a FIFO draining too slowly. The unique and novel features of this FIFO are that it works in both the idle stream and the configuration streams. The increment or decrement of the read pointer is different in the idle and compensation streams to preserve disparity. Another unique feature is that the read pointer to write pointer difference range changes between compensation and idle to minimize FIFO latency during packet transmission.

This work was done by Jeff Duhachek of Honeywell Aerospace for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-24853-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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