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NXP Announces HF Chip for Item-Level Tagging

The chip follows many of the specifications used in EPCglobal's candidate HF tag standard.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
The UID-OTP chip supports higher read rates than current HF chips: up to 200 inlays carrying the chip can be read at once, he says, whereas no more than 100 HF tags can usually be simultaneously read. The UID-OTP also supports a password feature, which, when deployed, makes the tag data inaccessible to unauthorized readers. Unlike UHF Gen 2 chips, however, the data can only be written to the UID-OTP chip once. And as the EPC is being written to the chip's memory, it is simultaneously locked so it cannot be later altered.

The UID-OTP differs from the candidate EPCglobal HF specification, however, in two important ways. It does not have enough memory to support a 128-bit EPC, so a 96-bit EPC must be used. And tag singulation schemes written into the EPCglobal specification, says Gonsalves, allow significant read-rate improvements over what the UID-OTP supports.

But because both the UID-OTP and candidate EPCglobal HF standard specification are backward-compatible to the ISO-15693 standard, end users who have deployed a reader architecture on the 15693 (or legacy ICODE protocols) will be able to upgrade the readers to read either UID-OTP tags or the EPCglobal HF standard tag (when it emerges) through a firmware upgrade.

Jordon also notes that EPCglobal has developed the reader command set for the candidate HF standard in harmony with the current reader command set for Gen 2 UHF tags; NXP has done the same for UID-OPT tags. Thus, it will be simpler and less costly for Tagsys and other RFID vendors to create multi-frequency readers able to encode and read both the HF and UHF tags.

NXP is making the ICODE UID-OTP chips available to tagmakers today. Sample pricing starts at around 6 cents apiece, depending on volume.

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