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Alien Technology Releases Pre-encoded Higgs-4 Chip

The new IC, which comes pre-encoded with a 38-bit EPC serial number, offers a variety of new features, including the ability to be written to at high speed.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 03, 2012RFID tag manufacturer Alien Technology has announced that its Higgs-4 EPC Gen 2 IC is now commercially available. The new chip, Alien reports, will quadruple the speed of writing to tags, from approximately 1,000 to about 4,000 tags per minute. The faster speed, according to the company, should be a particular benefit to product manufacturers that apply item-level passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to their products destined for retailers. In addition, the Higgs-4 IC is being released with more features than initially planned by Alien's developers when the chip was announced nearly 12 months ago.

For example, the chip can be encoded faster than traditional tags, by means of a BlastWrite feature enabling a user to write to dozens or hundreds of tags in parallel at any given time. Enabling mass-encoding, the firm explains, allows a user to achieve a writing rate of up to 3,600 to 4,000 tags per minute. Typically, existing tags can be written to at a rate of up to 1,000 per minute.

Neil Mitchell, Alien's VP of business development
QuickWrite provides "enhanced block-write" capability for situations in which a user does not wish to BlastWrite to tags, but would like to write multiple words to a single chip using a lone command. This speeds up Electronic Product Code (EPC) and memory initialization for brand owners looking to program tags one at a time.

What's more, the Higgs-4 IC supports a Multi-Vendor Chip-based Serialization (MCS) mechanism for generating a 38-bit EPC serial number based on each chip's Tag ID (TID), a unique number burned into the chip during manufacture (see Three RFID Chip Makers Agree of Serialization Approach). The MCS serialization scheme encodes bits 35, 36 and 37 (assuming counting from bit number 0, not bit number 1) in the EPC memory, in order to identify this EPC as an Alien serialized chip (as opposed to one provided by another manufacturer). The previous 35 bits (0 to 34) contain the EPC serial number. The Higgs-4 IC has the 38-bit serial number already encoded into the EPC fields, so a brand-owner need not encode it. Instead, a brand-owner can employ an RFID reader or printer to automatically generate a complete 96-bit EPC, consisting of that 38-bit serial number, plus additional bits that serve to identify the type of product being tagged, as well as the company that manufactured that item.

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