Clock generator

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A desktop PC clock generator, based on the chip ICS 952018AF and 14.3 MHz resonator (on the left) ICS 952018AF.jpg
A desktop PC clock generator, based on the chip ICS 952018AF and 14.3 MHz resonator (on the left)
A laptop PC clock generator, based on the Silego chip Silego clock generator.JPG
A laptop PC clock generator, based on the Silego chip

A clock generator is an electronic oscillator (circuit) that produces a timing signal (known as a clock signal and behaves as such) for use in synchronizing a circuit's operation. The signal can range from a simple symmetrical square wave to more complex arrangements. The basic parts that all clock generators share are a resonant circuit and an amplifier.

Electronic oscillator electronic circuit that produces a repetitive, oscillating electronic signal, often a sine wave or a square wave

An electronic oscillator is an electronic circuit that produces a periodic, oscillating electronic signal, often a sine wave or a square wave. Oscillators convert direct current (DC) from a power supply to an alternating current (AC) signal. They are widely used in many electronic devices. Common examples of signals generated by oscillators include signals broadcast by radio and television transmitters, clock signals that regulate computers and quartz clocks, and the sounds produced by electronic beepers and video games.

In electronics and especially synchronous digital circuits, a clock signal is a particular type of signal that oscillates between a high and a low state and is used like a metronome to coordinate actions of digital circuits.

Square wave

A square wave is a non-sinusoidal periodic waveform in which the amplitude alternates at a steady frequency between fixed minimum and maximum values, with the same duration at minimum and maximum. Although not realizable in physical systems, the transition between minimum and maximum is instantaneous for an ideal square wave.


The resonant circuit is usually a quartz piezo-electric oscillator, although simpler tank circuits and even RC circuits may be used.

Quartz mineral composed of silicon and oxygen atoms in a continuous framework of SiO₄ silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall chemical formula of SiO₂

Quartz is a mineral composed of silicon and oxygen atoms in a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall chemical formula of SiO2. Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in Earth's continental crust, behind feldspar.

Piezoelectricity the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress

Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure and latent heat. It is derived from the Greek word πιέζειν; piezein, which means to squeeze or press, and ἤλεκτρον ēlektron, which means amber, an ancient source of electric charge. French physicists Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered piezoelectricity in 1880.

A resistor–capacitor circuit, or RC filter or RC network, is an electric circuit composed of resistors and capacitors driven by a voltage or current source. A first order RC circuit is composed of one resistor and one capacitor and is the simplest type of RC circuit.

The amplifier circuit usually inverts the signal from the oscillator and feeds a portion back into the oscillator to maintain oscillation.

Amplifier electronic device that can increase the power of a signal

An amplifier, electronic amplifier or (informally) amp is an electronic device that can increase the power of a signal. It is a two-port electronic circuit that uses electric power from a power supply to increase the amplitude of a signal applied to its input terminals, producing a proportionally greater amplitude signal at its output. The amount of amplification provided by an amplifier is measured by its gain: the ratio of output voltage, current, or power to input. An amplifier is a circuit that has a power gain greater than one.

The generator may have additional sections to modify the basic signal. The 8088 for example, used a 2/3 duty cycle clock, which required the clock generator to incorporate logic to convert the 50/50 duty cycle which is typical of raw oscillators.

Intel 8088

The Intel 8088 microprocessor is a variant of the Intel 8086. Introduced on July 1, 1979, the 8088 had an eight-bit external data bus instead of the 16-bit bus of the 8086. The 16-bit registers and the one megabyte address range were unchanged, however. In fact, according to the Intel documentation, the 8086 and 8088 have the same execution unit (EU)—only the bus interface unit (BIU) is different. The original IBM PC was based on the 8088.

Duty cycle fraction of one period in which a signal or system is active

A duty cycle or power cycle is the fraction of one period in which a signal or system is active. Duty cycle is commonly expressed as a percentage or a ratio. A period is the time it takes for a signal to complete an on-and-off cycle. As a formula, a duty cycle (%) may be expressed as:

Other such optional sections include frequency divider or clock multiplier sections. Programmable clock generators allow the number used in the divider or multiplier to be changed, allowing any of a wide variety of output frequencies to be selected without modifying the hardware.

A frequency divider, also called a clock divider or scaler or prescaler, is a circuit that takes an input signal of a frequency, , and generates an output signal of a frequency:

The clock generator in a motherboard is often changed by computer enthusiasts to control the speed of their CPU, FSB, GPU and RAM. Typically the programmable clock generator is set by the BIOS at boot time to the selected value; although some systems have dynamic frequency scaling, which frequently re-programs the clock generator.

Central processing unit electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logical, control and input/output (I/O) operations specified by the instructions

A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor or main processor, is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logic, controlling, and input/output (I/O) operations specified by the instructions. The computer industry has used the term "central processing unit" at least since the early 1960s. Traditionally, the term "CPU" refers to a processor, more specifically to its processing unit and control unit (CU), distinguishing these core elements of a computer from external components such as main memory and I/O circuitry.

Front-side bus computer communication interface (bus) often used in Intel-chip-based computers during the 1990s and 2000s; replaced by replaced by HyperTransport, Intel QuickPath Interconnect or Direct Media Interface in modern CPUs

A front-side bus (FSB) is a computer communication interface (bus) that was often used in Intel-chip-based computers during the 1990s and 2000s. The competing EV6 bus served the same function for AMD CPUs. Both typically carry data between the central processing unit (CPU) and a memory controller hub, known as the northbridge.

Graphics processing unit specialized electronic circuit; graphics accelerator

A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a specialized electronic circuit designed to rapidly manipulate and alter memory to accelerate the creation of images in a frame buffer intended for output to a display device. GPUs are used in embedded systems, mobile phones, personal computers, workstations, and game consoles. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating computer graphics and image processing. Their highly parallel structure makes them more efficient than general-purpose CPUs for algorithms that process large blocks of data in parallel. In a personal computer, a GPU can be present on a video card or embedded on the motherboard. In certain CPUs, they are embedded on the CPU die.

Timing-signal generators (TSGs)

TSGs are clocks that are used throughout service-provider networks, frequently as the building integrated timing supply (BITS) for a central office.

Digital switching systems and some transmission systems (e.g., SONET) depend on reliable, high-quality synchronization (or timing) to prevent impairments. To provide this, most service providers utilize interoffice synchronization distribution networks based on the stratum hierarchy and implement the BITS concept to meet intraoffice synchronization needs.

A TSG is clock equipment that accepts input timing reference signals and generates output timing reference signals. The input reference signals can be either DS1 or composite-clock (CC) signals, and the output signals can also be DS1 or CC signals (or both). A TSG is made up of the six components listed below:

  1. An input timing interface that accepts DS1 or CC input signals.
  2. A timing-generation component that creates the timing signals used by the output timing-distribution component.
  3. An output timing distribution component that utilizes the timing signals from the timing-generation component to create multiple DS1 and CC output signals.
  4. A performance-monitoring (PM) component that monitors the timing characteristics of the input signals.
  5. An alarm interface that connects to the central-office (CO) alarm-monitoring system.
  6. An operations interface for local craftsperson use and communications with remote operations systems.

See also

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Feedback process in which information about the past or the present influences the same phenomenon in the present or future;occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop

Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop. The system can then be said to feed back into itself. The notion of cause-and-effect has to be handled carefully when applied to feedback systems:

Simple causal reasoning about a feedback system is difficult because the first system influences the second and second system influences the first, leading to a circular argument. This makes reasoning based upon cause and effect tricky, and it is necessary to analyze the system as a whole.

Phase-locked loop electronic circuit

A phase-locked loop or phase lock loop (PLL) is a control system that generates an output signal whose phase is related to the phase of an input signal. There are several different types; the simplest is an electronic circuit consisting of a variable frequency oscillator and a phase detector in a feedback loop. The oscillator generates a periodic signal, and the phase detector compares the phase of that signal with the phase of the input periodic signal, adjusting the oscillator to keep the phases matched.

A satellite modem or satmodem is a modem used to establish data transfers using a communications satellite as a relay. A satellite modem's main function is to transform an input bitstream to a radio signal and vice versa.

The Hartley oscillator is an electronic oscillator circuit in which the oscillation frequency is determined by a tuned circuit consisting of capacitors and inductors, that is, an LC oscillator. The circuit was invented in 1915 by American engineer Ralph Hartley. The distinguishing feature of the Hartley oscillator is that the tuned circuit consists of a single capacitor in parallel with two inductors in series, and the feedback signal needed for oscillation is taken from the center connection of the two inductors.

A variable frequency oscillator (VFO) in electronics is an oscillator whose frequency can be tuned over some range. It is a necessary component in any tunable radio receiver or transmitter that works by the superheterodyne principle, and controls the frequency to which the apparatus is tuned.

555 timer IC Most popular integrated circuit ever manufactured

The 555 timer IC is an integrated circuit (chip) used in a variety of timer, pulse generation, and oscillator applications. The 555 can be used to provide time delays, as an oscillator, and as a flip-flop element. Derivatives provide two (556) or four (558) timing circuits in one package.

Voltage-controlled oscillator

A voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) is an electronic oscillator whose oscillation frequency is controlled by a voltage input. The applied input voltage determines the instantaneous oscillation frequency. Consequently, a VCO can be used for frequency modulation (FM) or phase modulation (PM) by applying a modulating signal to the control input. A VCO is also an integral part of a phase-locked loop.

Linear electronic oscillator circuits, which generate a sinusoidal output signal, are composed of an amplifier and a frequency selective element, a filter. A linear oscillator circuit which uses an RC network, a combination of resistors and capacitors, for its frequency selective part is called an RC oscillator.

In electronics, a frequency multiplier is an electronic circuit that generates an output signal whose output frequency is a harmonic (multiple) of its input frequency. Frequency multipliers consist of a nonlinear circuit that distorts the input signal and consequently generates harmonics of the input signal. A subsequent bandpass filter selects the desired harmonic frequency and removes the unwanted fundamental and other harmonics from the output.

Gunn diode diode

A Gunn diode, also known as a transferred electron device (TED), is a form of diode, a two-terminal passive semiconductor electronic component, with negative resistance, used in high-frequency electronics. It is based on the "Gunn effect" discovered in 1962 by physicist J. B. Gunn. Its largest use is in electronic oscillators to generate microwaves, in applications such as radar speed guns, microwave relay data link transmitters, and automatic door openers.

A synchronous circuit is a digital circuit in which the changes in the state of memory elements are synchronized by a clock signal. In a sequential digital logic circuit, data is stored in memory devices called flip-flops or latches. The output of a flip-flop is constant until a pulse is applied to its "clock" input, upon which the input of the flip-flop is latched into its output. In a synchronous logic circuit, an electronic oscillator called the clock generates a string of pulses, the "clock signal". This clock signal is applied to every storage element, so in an ideal synchronous circuit, every change in the logical levels of its storage components is simultaneous. Ideally, the input to each storage element has reached its final value before the next clock occurs, so the behaviour of the whole circuit can be predicted exactly. Practically, some delay is required for each logical operation, resulting in a maximum speed at which each synchronous system can run.

Static timing analysis (STA) is a simulation method of computing the expected timing of a digital circuit without requiring a simulation of the full circuit.

A digital delay generator is a piece of electronic test equipment that provides precise delays for triggering, syncing, delaying and gating events. These generators are used in many types of experiments, controls and processes where electronic timing of a single event or multiple events to a common timing reference is needed. The digital delay generator may initiate a sequence of events or be triggered by an event. What differentiates it from ordinary electronic timing is the synchronicity of its outputs to each other and to the initiating event.

Ceramic resonator

A ceramic resonator is an electronic component consisting of a piece of a piezoelectric ceramic material with two or more metal electrodes attached. When connected in an electronic oscillator circuit, resonant mechanical vibrations in the device generate an oscillating signal of a specific frequency. Like the similar quartz crystal, they are used in oscillators for purposes such as generating the clock signal used to control timing in computers and other digital logic devices.

A frequency synthesizer is an electronic circuit that generates a range of frequencies from a single reference frequency. Frequency synthesizers are used in many modern devices such as radio receivers, televisions, mobile telephones, radiotelephones, walkie-talkies, CB radios, cable television converter boxes satellite receivers, and GPS systems. A frequency synthesizer may use the techniques of frequency multiplication, frequency division, direct digital synthesis, frequency mixing, and phase-locked loops to generate its frequencies. The stability and accuracy of the frequency synthesizer's output are related to the stability and accuracy of its reference frequency input. Consequently, synthesizers use stable and accurate reference frequencies, such as those provided by crystal oscillators.

Texas Instruments SN76477

SN76477 "complex sound generator" is a sound chip produced by Texas Instruments (TI). The chip came to market in 1978, and TI ceased production of the part. A 100% compatible version, identified as ICS76477, has been listed as 'in stock' by at least one US-based component stockist. The chip is typically used as a sound effects generator in arcade games and toys and for hobby projects. The use of the SN76477 in a musical context is limited by the fact that it was difficult to electronically control the pitch of the produced sound.

Microelectromechanical system (MEMS) oscillators are timing devices that generate highly stable reference frequencies, which can measure time. These reference frequencies may be used to sequence electronic systems, manage data transfer, define radio frequencies, and measure elapsed time. The core technologies used in MEMS oscillators have been in development since the mid-1960s, but have only been sufficiently advanced for commercial applications since 2006. MEMS oscillators incorporate MEMS resonators, which are microelectromechanical structures that define stable frequencies. MEMS clock generators are MEMS timing devices with multiple outputs for systems that need more than a single reference frequency. MEMS oscillators are a valid alternative to older, more established quartz crystal oscillators, offering better resilience against vibration and mechanical shock, and reliability with respect to temperature variation.

A comparator is an electronic component that compares two input voltages. Comparators are closely related to operational amplifiers, but a comparator is designed to operate with positive feedback and with its output saturated at one power rail or the other. An op-amp can be pressed into service as a poorly performing comparator if necessary, but its slew rate will be impaired.