Skip to Main Content
Superconducting digital systems based on Josephson junctions have generally used a synchronous timing strategy. A master clock signal is used to delimit a data window during which the system changes state and data is transferred from one block to the next. The temporal stability of the clock signal has a profound effect on the performance of rapid single flux quantum (RSFQ) digital systems. In particular, short-term clock fluctuations, or clock jitter, can degrade system performance due to the hazard of timing constraint violations. The successful development of large-scale RSFQ digital systems will require highly stable multigigahertz on-chip clock sources. To meet this need, methods for characterizing and measuring the short-term stability of such sources are required. We identify the relevant figure of merit to characterize and compare various clocks: the cycle-to-cycle standard deviation of the clock periods. We present experimental techniques for the measurement of this figure of merit and apply them to the measurement of jitter in a clock generator used often in RSFQ systems, the ring oscillator. High-frequency phase noise measurements found the jitter of a 9.6-GHz clock to be in the range from 0.6% to 0.36% of the clock period. The measured values of clock jitter fell within the 95% confidence interval of our stochastic circuit simulations. This was sufficient evidence to conclude that thermal noise from the resistors in the circuit may be the dominant source of jitter in the ring oscillator.