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The generation of a fault-tolerant global time base with known accuracy of synchronization is one of the important operating system functions in a distributed real-time system. Depending on the types and number of tolerated faults, this paper presents upper bounds on the achievable synchronization accuracy for external and internal synchronization in a distributed real-time system. The concept of continuous versus instantaneous synchronization is introduced in order to generate a uniform common time base for local, global, and external time measurements. In the last section, the functions of a VLSI clock synchronization unit, which improves the synchronization accuracy and reduces the CPU load, are described. With this unit, the CPU overhead and the network traffic for clock synchronization in state-of-the-art distributed real-time systems can be reduced to less than 1 percent.