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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.
EPCglobal is currently working to ratify its own HF specification—to be called the HF Gen 2 EPC standard—for passive tags, and it has been working with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to harmonize this standard with ISO 18000-3M3. It's important for EPC tags to comply with ISO standards, says Sue Hutchinson, GS1 US's director of portfolio strategy, just as the UHF EPC Gen 2 standard is harmonized with the ISO 18000-6c standard. She notes that a key element of the ISO 18000-3M3 standard and candidate HF Gen 2 EPC standard is that they use the same data structure and design set as the ISO 18000-6c/Gen 2 EPC UHF standards, which means Gen 3 RFID interrogators will be able to read and encode these HF tags, as well as UHF tags, thereby saving infrastructure costs during deployment.
The new Icode ILT chip supports an anti-collision function enabling it to read up to 700 tags at a time (whereas only about 60 tags made with NXP's SLIx chip, which is compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, can be read at once), even when the tags are in close proximity. What's more, this can be accomplished at a fast data rate—the forward link is 26.7 to 100 kilobits per second, and the return link is 53 to 848 kilobits per second. NXP's older HF tags, based on the ISO 15693 standard, have a forward link of up to 26.5 kilobits per second and a return link of up to only 53 kilobits per second.
The chip supports password protection, which locks the data stored on the chip unless the reader presents a valid password, and a bit that can be turned on or off to signify tag status. This bit could be employed in a retail environment in which RFID readers are used at doorways to deter theft. At the point of sale, the bit would be set to indicate that an item was sold, and any goods removed from the store without that setting would thus trigger alarms.
The chip is also being targeted to the health-care industry, in which it will be initially used. ClearCount, which manufactures an RFID-based system for tracking surgical sponges, reports that it plans to migrate to tags using the Icode ILT chip (though it has not disclosed the names of the vendors from which it intends to purchase the complete tags). ClearCount currently uses tags made by Texas Instruments and carrying chips compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, Vega says, but will migrate to the ISO 18000-3M3 standard through reader firmware upgrades.
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