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RFID News Roundup

Ams provides integrated, low-power UHF reader for Intermec's 70 series of handheld computers; NXP strengthens SmartMX2 security chips with PUF anti-cloning technology; TagMaster awarded contract by Alstom to develop and supply RFID for train-signaling system; Port Logistics Group deploying Tagsys' RFID solutions for its retail and apparel clients.
By RFID Journal
Feb 21, 2013The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Ams Provides Integrated, Low-Power UHF Reader for Intermec's Series of RFID-enabled Handheld Computers
ams, an Austrian manufacturer of ICs and sensors (formerly called austriamicrosystems), has announced that Intermec is incorporating ams' AS3993 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader chip in Intermec's 70 Series of rugged handheld computers. Last month, Intermec announced that the 70 Series was updated to include three models with integrated RFID readers: models CK70 RFID, CN70 RFID and CN70e RFID (see RFID News Roundup: Intermec Enhances 70 Series Mobile Computers With Integrated RFID). According to ams, the AS3993 IC is an EPC Gen 2 RFID reader chip designed for mobile, space-constrained or embedded applications. The chip was unveiled in April 2012 (see RFID News Roundup: Austriamicrosystems Unveils New Reader Chips for Embedded and Consumer Applications), and implements all relevant protocols, including the ISO 18000-6C standard, the ISO 18000-6A/B standard (for operation in direct mode) and the ISO 29143 air-interface protocol (for mobile RFID interrogators). Its low power consumption and low-voltage operation help to extend battery life, the company reports. Unlike competing UHF RFID readers that implement their protocol handling in digital or software, ams explains, the AS3993 is an all-analog design that consumes far less power than rival DSP-based architectures. Power specifications for the AS3993 model include operation at a power supply as low as 2.7 volts, and a current requirement of 65 milliamperes, the company indicates. The AS3993 UHF RFID reader chip is available for sampling now, priced at $35 for 1,000 pieces. A demonstration board for the IC is also available.

NXP Strengthens SmartMX2 Security Chips With PUF Anti-cloning Technology
NXP Semiconductors has announced that it plans to bring security chips to market that integrate Intrinsic-ID's physical unclonable function (PUF) technology. The PUF technology will be embedded in future generations of NXP's SmartMX2 ICs, with the PUF-enabled SmartMX2 expected to be made available in 2014. SmartMX2 ICs can be added to passive high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz tags in order to authenticate them, and to protect them from cloning and data theft. According to NXP, PUF technology is designed to safeguard individual chips from data theft, by using the unique "fingerprint" inherent in every semiconductor device to protect its encryption key, thereby making it very difficult to clone and thus reverse-engineer and compromise security microcontrollers. Intrinsic-ID's PUF technology relies on the physical characteristics of static random-access memory (SRAM) technology, NXP explains. After powering up a secure element, the used cells are initialized randomly. This start-up behavior—bits toggling between zero and one—is different for every individual chip. As such, NXP notes, this content after start-up can serve as a unique fingerprint, which can then be used as a key to protect an encryption key or memory. The SmartMX2 ICs, unveiled in December 2010 (see RFID News Roundup: NXP Launches SmartMX2 Family of Secure Microcontrollers), are designed to provide greater levels of security for multiple applications, such as mobile transactions, public transport, access management, device authentication and banking, provided by a single smart card. The SmartMX2 chip has a Common Criteria EAL 6+ certificate issued by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). The security chip's IntegralSecurity architecture comes with more than 100 different security features, protecting the IC against reverse-engineering, semi-invasive and non-invasive attacks. According to NXP, adding PUF technology significantly improves the chip's protection from reverse-engineering attacks, as it removes the digital encryption key's permanent presence on the device. This, the company notes, will enhance the chip's security architecture and strengthen such applications as NFC-enabled mobile payment, electronic ticketing, and e-government and cyber-security services. Intrinsic-ID is not the only company offering PUF technology; Verayo began offering a commercial version of its PUF technology in 2008 (see PUF Technology Catches Clones).

TagMaster Awarded Contract by Alstom to Develop and Supply RFID for Train-Signaling System
Alstom, a solutions provider specializing in transport infrastructure, power generation and electrical grids, will implement RFID equipment supplied by TagMaster to identify trains as part of a new Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) solution that Alstom is developing for Lille Métropole's metro system in Lille, France. A CBTC system is a railway signaling solution that employs telecommunications between the train and track equipment, in order to control traffic and infrastructure, as well as identify a train's exact position, for more efficient and safe railway traffic management. TagMaster is developing and supplying a customized version of its Heavy-Duty (HD) RFID Reader solution, which will include heavy-duty 2.45 GHz interrogators and active RFID tags, to detect and identify trains. The terms of the initial agreement, worth more than €1 million ($1.3 million) for TagMaster, covers the development phase and the supply of equipment. According to Richard Holt, TagMaster's director of sales for transportation, equipment includes HD readers that will be mounted on the track, in addition to HD ID-Tags that will be mounted under the trains. TagMaster's HD RFID solution is being installed elsewhere, including as part of a project to upgrade and extend signaling on the São Paulo Metro, in Brazil (see RFID News Roundup: TagMaster Receives New Order from Bombardier for São Paulo Metro Line).

Port Logistics Group Deploying Tagsys' RFID Solutions for Its Retail and Apparel Clients
Port Logistics Group, a provider of gateway logistics services, and Tagsys, a supplier of item-level inventory-management systems, have announced a partnership to enable RFID solutions for Port Logistics Group's customers at its U.S. gateway facilities in New Jersey and in Long Beach, California. Both facilities are currently conducting pilot programs, and the solution being implemented consists of a mix of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID readers—such as tunnel, fixed and portable readers—UHF tags, and Tagsys' proprietary eConnectWare RFID middleware for item-level inventory management. The warehouses will utilize the solution to provide RFID capabilities to track high-end apparel and accessories for Port Logistics Group's clients. The pilots launched last month, and the implementation is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2013. The RFID solution will be used to collect inbound order receipt data at the stock-keeping unit (SKU) level, validation data regarding packing, and outbound order verification and ship validation data, as well as inventory management and cycle-counting. The two companies will partner to develop and deploy the RFID solution, which will be integrated with Port Logistics Group's proprietary EventTracker warehouse-management system (WMS). According to the two partners, the implementation is being carried out to support increasing demands from retailers and manufacturers for RFID capabilities throughout the supply chain.
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