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Thanks for Even More Memory

A new crop of RFID chips is designed to satisfy memory-hungry applications.
By Jill Gambon
Jun 01, 2008—In the November/December 2006 print issue, we looked at memory-rich Gen 2 passive tags—those that could hold from 64 to 224 bits of user-programmable memory—and we reported that 64,000-bit tags were being developed (see Thanks for the Memory). Since then, Intelleflex has unveiled a line of high-memory tags based on its 64-kilobit chips, including tags designed to track the chain of custody of keys in casinos and law enforcement settings, and tags to track assets in harsh environments and extreme temperatures.

The company also has been working with Boeing to test an EPC Gen 2-compliant passive tag designed specifically for use with Boeing's Dreamliner 787 line of aircraft. Boeing has identified storage of maintenance and repair data as potential uses for high-memory tags.

Other end users have identified the need to store more data on tags to support a variety of applications—from tracking baggage at airports to recording production and maintenance information during manufacturing or repair processes. Now there's a new crop of chips with expanded memory capacity to fulfill that demand.

In April, Alien Technology unveiled the Higgs 3 chip, its latest offering for EPC Gen 2 UHF tags. The Higgs 3, which is scheduled for availability this summer, has 512 bits of user memory as well as a precoded 64-bit unique tag identification number, double the size of what was available on the previous version of the chip.

The company cited airline baggage tracking and chain-of-custody records for pharmaceutical products as potential uses for the expanded user memory. The Higgs 3 also includes a read password that adds a layer of security, preventing unauthorized tag reads. The updated chip consumes less power and offers a better read range than previous versions, the company says.
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