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New Chip Offers Greater Memory, Sensitivity at Lower Price

Alien Technology's Higgs 9 integrated circuit is designed for use in manufacturing, tolling and pharmaceutical logistics applications, to enable greater data storage, multiple passwords and longer EPCs than other chips.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 05, 2019

Alien Technology has released its latest integrated circuit, the Higgs 9. According to the company, the Higgs 9 offers the highest amount of memory among its chips, with improved sensitivity and a lower cost. The IC is the company's ninth chip offering since Alien launched in 1994, and replaces its previously highest-memory chip, the Higgs 3.

Alien released the new IC at RFID Journal LIVE! 2019, held this week in Phoenix, Ariz., where the firm displayed and demonstrated tags using the chip. The company is building the Higgs 9 into its own inlays, while partner inlay makers, such asVizinex RFID, are also releasing products using the new IC.

Alien's Higgs 9 integrated circuit
The Higgs 9 offers the highest amount of memory available for EPC UHF RFID tags, says Michael Hetrick, Alien's global sales VP, with improved sensitivity and a lower price than its previous high-memory chips. The IC employs Alien's Higgs Sentinel Memory platform and provides 96 bits of Electronic Product Code (EPC) memory and 688 bits of user memory. Some user memory can be transferred to the EPC memory to enable an extension of EPC data up to 496 bits.

In addition to the memory boost, the new IC includes a 3-decibel improvement in read sensitivity and a 6-decibel improvement in write sensitivity. The chip's improved performance means the tag could be read at a greater distance—between 10 and 20 percent more that predecessor ICs, depending on the environment. The write sensitivity is similarly improved, the company reports. That means tags can be encoded faster and from a greater distance on a conveyor. The Higgs 9 also enables faster printing and encoding application scenarios.

Memory can be stored in four blocks, each of which could include a unique password so the chip could enable a tag to provide different companies or individuals with access to separate blocks of data. That would make such a tag useful for complex supply chains, as well as for tolling or access-control applications in which separate blocks of data may be useful for various constituents that might interrogate the tag.

"There are two theories on RFID data management," Hetrick says. "One focuses on data storage in the cloud," in which case an EPC number stored on a tag is linked to data on a cloud-based server. Alien Technology makes ICs and inlays with low memory for that use case. However, a second approach to RFID data—with the information written directly to a tag for access by authorized parties—is a better option for those lacking easy access to cloud-based servers, or who want to make data available to other companies or parties via a simple tag read.

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