A phase-locked loop or phase lock loop abbreviated as 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 oscillatorand 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.
Keeping the input and output phase in lock step also implies keeping the input and output frequencies the same. Consequently, in addition to synchronizing signals, a phase-locked loop can track an input frequency, or it can generate a frequency that is a multiple of the input frequency. These properties are used for computer clock synchronization, demodulation, and frequency synthesis.
Phase-locked loops are widely employed in radio, telecommunications, computers and other electronic applications. They can be used to demodulate a signal, recover a signal from a noisy communication channel, generate a stable frequency at multiples of an input frequency (frequency synthesis), or distribute precisely timed clock pulses in digital logic circuits such as microprocessors. Since a single integrated circuit can provide a complete phase-locked-loop building block, the technique is widely used in modern electronic devices, with output frequencies from a fraction of a hertz up to many gigahertz.
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