Impinj M800 IC to Boost RAIN RFID Readability

Published: August 8, 2023

Label companies are releasing new products leveraging the latest chip, which is smaller and lower power than processor products, while also being longer range and more reliable.

As more RFID tags are being applied to goods in retail and logistics environments, the wider diversity of materials being tagged and more crowded reading environments are demanding high tag performance. This summer, RAIN RFID company Impinj has released its new M800 chip to provide improved readability of RAIN UHF RFID labels at high speed and long distance, while also being smaller and using less power than previous chips. RFID product companies Tageos and Beontag have each released products using the chip as well.

Impinj’s chip includes improved performance and also reduces required power consumption by 30 percent. As a result, smaller tags can be deployed across a broader range of goods, such as general merchandise and small apparel. The chip’s own size is smaller than the previous version (the Impinj M700) so that 25 percent more chips can be produced per wafer, with features aimed at making manufacturing of labels easier and at lower cost, says Jeff Dossett, Impinj’s Chief Revenue Officer.

The Impinj M800 series consists of two new chips: the M830 and M850. The M830 features 128-bit EPC memory while the M850 has 96-bit EPC memory, as well as 32-bit user memory. The chips also take advantage of existing Impinj innovations such as its Protected Mode feature to protect consumer privacy, and an ability to mitigate tag clutter. The M800 series of products are compatible with the M700 series antenna designs.

Impinj’s newest chip is intended to enable reliable reading of small tags at high volume and speed, supporting more efficient, global operations, while the chip shape and antenna connections improve tag quality and performance, Dossett says. “Virtually every element of the Impinj M800 tag chip is an advancement on the innovation that was reflected in the Impinj M700 series tag chips,” Dossett says. It’s part of what he says is the company’s long-term objective to continue to increase the speed, accuracy, distance, and reliability as RAIN RFID tags are used in increasing volume on a wider variety of items.

Improving Readability

The company’s focus has been on how well tags can be read in the increasingly challenging environments in which they may be located. “Our mission is to connect everything and extend the Internet to trillions of everyday items. We’re still progressing toward that vision with the Impinj M800,” Dossett says.

Martin Liebl, Impinj’s Senior Product Management Director

For one thing, the chip offers an increased read sensitivity of approximately 1.5 dBm. compared to the M700 series. The M700 operated at 24 dBm while the M800 offers 25.5 dBm.

Among its features, the chip includes a widened tuning range for use across the globe, along with tightened radio frequency stability. The M800 chip leverages some existing Impinj features such as an upgraded AutoTune V3 to enable a label to adjust its performance automatically according to the materials, form factors, and operating frequencies being used in a specific environment.

This overcomes challenges experienced in some applications in which users need to apply different tags to different materials or in which there are stacked tags, in which case the tags detune each other or are detuned by the material, says Martin Liebl, Impinj’s Senior Product Management Director. He adds, “AutoTune V3 really helps to leverage the better power efficiency, over a wider frequency range … on a diverse set of materials and different environments.”

With another feature, TagFocus, M800 is also designed to solve cluttered environments. TagFocus enables readers to identify those tags that have not been read and therefore enable faster reading of high volumes of tags. Impinj’s Protected Mode, being leveraged by the chip, enables users to make tags invisible to RFID readers, for example, when a tagged item is purchased, and then restore those tags to normal operation using a secure PIN. Protected Mode is carried forward from the M700 series.

Tag manufacturing gets easier and at lower cost

To improve manufacturing efficiency and costs, the IC also features a new chip shape as well as Enduro V2 bonding technology. The different chip shape – with chamfered (slope cut) corners – enables an easier, more durable manufacturing process, thereby increasing the probability of a successful inlay, Liebl says. With the 20 percent smaller size die, the M800 increases the number of chips per wafer by 25 percent.

Impinj also enhanced the Enduro bond pads in a manner which results in a stronger connection between the IC and the antenna, which will then be more durable through the life of the inlay. The result, says Liebl, is a higher yield of durable, more reliable readable chips.

Dossett says the chip will enable a small form factor tag at 42 by 16 millimeters and a 44 by 18 millimeters to meet new specifications from end users. For example, Walmart, in collaboration with Auburn University RFID Lab’s ARC program for measuring tag performance, has created nine specifications that demand tags of specific dimensions.

Beontag and Tageos Labels Released

In July, Beontag released a new family of labels leveraging the M800 – the Falcon M800, Pacer M800, Swift M800, and Setter M800. Each includes the new Impinj IC as well as a specialized antenna design to meet the needs of applications in both retail and industrial markets, says Marcio Muniz, Beontag’s digital transformation enabler.

The Falcon M800 is a retail-focused tag sized at 50 by 30 millimeters for high read reliability, orientation sensitivity, and high performance, even when stacked. The Pacer M800 is sized at 70 by 12 millimeters for long range and high sensitivity requirements on materials that include cardboard and plastics for supply chain and challenging environments. The Swift M800 is a smaller label at 42 by 16 millimeters for small-sized retail goods, and the Setter M800 at 90 by 24 millimeters is optimized for shipping labels.

“Customers are always looking for more accuracy and speed in their inventories and transparency in supply chain. With enhanced performance we can enable more reliable and also faster inventory processes,” says Muniz.

French RFID technology company Tageos has also released four new RFID inlays – the EOS-241 M830, EOS-421 M850, the EOS-261 M830, and finally, the EOS-261 M850. Each is designed for retail and other high-volume markets for use on item level applications, including with diverse packaging materials.

As a result of the new chip, says Dossett, “Given its unique characteristics, I do believe we’ll see a ramp in usage of the Impinj M800, which is as fast as any ramp that we’ve experienced in our history.”

By enabling category expansion, and given the readability improvements, “I think it will also unlock multiple use cases in retail,” beyond inventory management. That could include automated self-checkout and the expansion of electronic article surveillance for loss prevention, as well as capturing the back of store to front of store transition of products.

Key Takeaways:

  • Impinj’s new IC, the M800 series, is intended to provide higher performance than its predecessor RAIN RFID IC’s for reading tags reliably in crowded environments.
  • Tageos and Beontag are among early adopters of the IC, which are offering their own labels that leverage its features.