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Philips' Gen 2 Chip Gets Certified

Royal Philips Electronics' UCODE EPC G2 RFID chip for RFID tags and labels has won EPCglobal certification.
By Jonathan Collins
Nov 14, 2005Royal Philips Electronics has won EPCglobal certification for its EPCglobal Class 1 Generation 2 IC for RFID tags and labels. The company says it will start shipping production quantities of its UCODE EPC Gen 2 chips in January.

Philips' UCODE EPC Gen 2 chip joins Impinj's Monza chip as the only RFID IC certified as EPCglobal Gen2-compliant, based on tests done by MET Laboratories, which runs the EPCglobal Hardware Certification program. Impinj won its certification in September 2005 (see EPCglobal Certifies Gen 2 Hardware).

Philips' Jan-Willem Reynaerts
"Certification is very relevant, as the promise of Gen 2 is interoperability that will enable customers to use labels based on silicon from multiple suppliers," says Jan-Willem Reynaerts, general manager of the market sector team for RFID, business line identification, at Philips Semiconductors. "Many customers have been waiting for a major company like Philips to join Impinj and standardize at the silicon level."

Compared with previous EPCglobal and UCODE protocols, the EPC Gen 2 standard enables faster tag read-write rates and the ability to operate in an environment where there is a larger quantity of interrogators deployed within close range of each other.

Philips says it that although the its UCODE EPC G2 chips won't be available in production quantities until January, it is currently producing a small number of the chips. "We will have low million volumes available in the January time frame and already have a few hundred thousands pieces available for samples," says Reinserts.

Philips' UCODE EPC G2 chips will be manufactured at the company's plant in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in parallel with its predecessor, the UCODE EPC 1.9 chips, developed for use in the European market. The plant has a capacity to produce more than 1 billion chips a year, and Philips says it expects to scale down production of its UCODE EPC 1.9 chip from January onward as demand for UCODE EPC G2 grows.

The new UCODE EPC G2 chip has write-once 96-bit programmable memory for an EPC number. It uses an anticollision algorithm that enables the reading of up to 1,600 RFID labels per second under current U.S. regulations, or up to 600 labels per second under current European regulations. According to Philips, once an EPC number has been written to the chip, the number is locked and password-protected. However, customers have the flexibility of changing the number using their password for reusable applications.

Philips says tags and labels using its UCODE EPC G2 IC will be available from the member companies of its Gen2 Task Force program, which includes ASK, Avery Dennison, Checkpoint Systems, Deister Electronic, Feig Electronic, Omron, Rafsec, SAMSys, Symbol Technologies, ThingMagic and X-ident Technology.

Initially, Philips says, prices for the Gen 2 tag are likely to begin at 7 to 8 U.S. cents apiece. Once production volumes reach the hundreds of millions in line with demand, however, the company reports, prices per IC will fall below 5 cents each.
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