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NXP to Unveil New UHF, HF Chips
The new models include the Ucode I2C, a high-memory EPC chip that can be embedded into computers and other devices in order to activate features or diagnose errors, and the Icode ILT, a high-frequency IC designed for high-volume, fast tag reading.
Some of NXP's other UHF chips, such as the G2iL+ (see New NXP RFID Chips Bring Multiple Functions to Item-Level Tagging) and the new G2iM+, also have input/output capabilities enabling them to communicate with a microprocessor. But these chips, Vega notes, employ a single wire connection to a microcontroller, which does not allow for the ability to easily filter and control what information is shared between the tag and the microprocessor, nor for bidirectional communication between the chip and the microcontroller. In other words, if a tag based on a G2iL+ chip were embedded in a laptop that suffered a malfunction, thereby resulting in an error log, the microcontroller could not send that log to the tag's memory. But with an I2C-based tag, it could, because the I2C bus allows information to flow both into and out of the microcontroller and the RFID tag.
The G2iM and G2iM+ chip are higher-memory versions of NXP's Ucode G2iL and G2iL+ chips, announced a year ago. The G2iL and G2iL+ chips are designed for EPC Gen 2 UHF tags that are low-cost, low-memory and used in ultra-high-volume RFID applications, such as tracking apparel or consumer packaged goods. Both chip models could also be used in tags for tracking products in the supply chain—especially in cases in which an end user wants to save extra data to tag memory. But these chips were also designed for applications in which tags are associated for a long period with products or parts, and are used to maintain a history of their use. For example, an RFID tag attached to an engine component could be utilized to maintain a repair history, or to store information about its configuration or use.
Both the G2iM and the G2iM+ chips have 128 bits of EPC memory, 640 bits of user memory and 96 bits of TID memory. In the G2iM+ version, the user memory can be segmented into up to three parts, two of which can be password-protected. Moreover, an end user can elect to have one of these segments accessible via a shared password, and the other only by that particular end user. This would allow secure and controlled information sharing among supply chain partners.
The G2iM+ chip, in addition to the functions required by the EPC Gen 2 standard, has several optional features, including a tamper notification and a switch that reduces the tag's read range to 20 centimeters (7.9 inches)—a feature that retailers might choose to employ, for instance, in order to reduce the read range of tags left attached to products past the point of sale. Leaving a tag operable (albeit with reduced read range) would enable it to be used again if the product were returned or submitted for repair, as it would allow for easy identification, as well as authenticate the purchase. This chip also comes with a lead allowing it to be attached to a battery, in order to extend read range, along with a single wire that can be connected to a microprocessor, as noted above.
The Icode ILT chip is made for HF passive tags, and is compliant with the ISO 18000-3 Mode 3 (3M3) standard, which describes the air-interface protocol and data structure to be used between HF tags and interrogators. The chip is designed for reading large numbers of densely packed HF tags simultaneously. NXP indicates it is the first chipmaker to introduce a chip conforming to that standard. Reader manufacturers will now be able to encode to and read ISO 18000-3M3 tags using a firmware upgrade to a reader compliant with the ISO 18000-6c/EPC Gen 2 standard.
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