What Are the Class and Generation of RFID Tags?

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Ask The ExpertsWhat Are the Class and Generation of RFID Tags?
RFID Journal Staff asked 13 years ago

What is the difference between the two terms?

—Name withheld


In the world of radio frequency identification, "generation" refers to the version of the standard employed. EPC Gen 2 was the second version of the air-interface protocol standard for passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags developed by GS1/EPCglobal. The EPC Gen 2 standard is incompatible with Gen 1, and has many additional features, so Gen 2 was a way of differentiating hardware based on the two different standards.

The term "class" was used by the original Auto-ID Center to differentiate among the capabilities of different types of tags. Here is a breakdown of the classes as originally proposed.

Class 1: a simple, passive, read-only backscatter tag with one-time, field-programmable non-volatile memory

Class 2: a passive backscatter tag with up to 65 kilobytes of read-write memory

Class 3: a semi-passive backscatter tag with up to 65 kilobytes of read memory (essentially, a Class 2 tag with a built-in battery to support increased read range)

Class 4: an active tag that uses a built-in battery to run the microchip's circuitry, and to power a transmitter that broadcasts a signal to an interrogator

Class 5: an active RFID tag that can communicate with other Class 5 tags and/or other devices (essentially, tags that can form ad hoc mesh networks)

You can learn more about these terms by reading A Summary of RFID Standards in our Getting Started section.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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