STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) announced a single-chip microcontroller solution intended for both PC-integrated and freestanding smart-card applications resulting from a partnership agreement with Gemalto – a world leader in digital security and the world’s leading supplier of smart-card readers*. The new ST7GEM is a secure MCU in ST’s ST7 family, pre-programmed with smart-card interface software from Gemalto, and requiring the addition of only a few passive external components to become a complete embedded smart-card reader solution.
ST is a longtime leading supplier of MCUs for smartcards and also has been one of the leading suppliers for smartcard reader applications for the last five years. The EMVCo-certified ST7GEM, the latest member of ST’s ASSP (Application Specific Standard Product) microcontroller family, is an enhancement of the established ST7SCR secure MCU which has been in volume production since 2002. It provides an exceptionally high level of security at very low cost, and its embedded Gemalto firmware now enables the addition or creation of smart card reading capability with minimum design effort.
Integrated smart-card readers are an increasingly popular security feature for laptop PCs, enabling user authentication, and protecting sensitive information in healthcare, banking, government and other areas. The ST7GEM is already being used in production by a leading laptop manufacturer, and other industry leaders are currently evaluating and qualifying the device for their own PCs. In addition, it is an ideal solution for standalone readers connected through a USB or serial interface, and for POS (point-of-sale) terminals, PIN pads, mobile phones, PDAs and set-top boxes.
“Our partnership with Gemalto has brought together the application and silicon expertise of the industry leaders to create an easy-to-use solution enabling any manufacturer to implement a smart-card reader,” said Youssef Benmokhtar, Director of the 8-bit Microcontroller Business Unit, STMicroelectronics. “By sparing our customers the need to develop their own application software, we’re providing access to the leading secure software while accelerating our customers’ products’ time-to-market.”
“The synergies between STMicroelectronics, a leader in silicon technology, and Gemalto, a leader in digital security, will allow us to jointly promote this new Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) offer,” added Alain Sigaud, senior vice-president for smart readers & tokens at Gemalto. “Its seamless and cost-effective integration into various devices embedding smart card capability will facilitate their expansion.”
The ST7GEM peripherals include an ISO/IEC 7816 serial host interface; USB 2.0-compliant interface; card power supply, with power-up/power-down control, ensuring compatibility with 5.0V, 3.0V and 1.8V smart-card types; and a card management unit with card insertion and removal detection. Drivers are embedded for a wide range of popular operating systems, and the whole package makes it straightforward to build an EMV-compliant smart-card interface. In addition, the device includes 16 Kbytes of Flash program memory and 768 bytes of RAM, as well as a timer, watchdog and low-voltage detector.
The ST7GEM is entering volume production now, and is available in 24-pin SO and QFN packages, priced at $4.50 in quantities of 1,000. Sample quantities are also available. It is supported by an evaluation kit developed by Gemalto, and by an application note with PCB recommendations, schematics and component bill of materials.
EMVCo LLC was formed in February 1999 by Europay, MasterCard and Visa, to manage, maintain and enhance the EMV(TM) Integrated Circuit Card Specifications for Payment Systems. With the acquisition of Europay by MasterCard in 2002 and JCB International joining the organization in 2005, EMVCo is currently operated by JCB International, MasterCard International, and Visa International.
Gemalto (Euronext NL 0000400653 GTO) is a leader in digital security with pro forma 2006 annual revenues of €1.7 billion, operations in about 100 countries and over 10,000 employees including 1,500 R&D engineers. In a world where the digital revolution is increasingly transforming our lives, Gemalto’s solutions are designed to make personal digital interactions more convenient, secure and enjoyable. Gemalto provides end-to-end digital security solutions, from the development of software applications through design and production of secure personal devices such as smart cards, SIMs, e-passports, and tokens to the management of deployment services for its customers. More than a billion people worldwide use the company’s products and services for telecommunications, financial services, e-government, identity management, multimedia content, digital rights management, IT security, mass transit and many other applications. Gemalto was formed in June 2006 by the combination of Axalto and Gemplus.
STMicroelectronics is a global leader in developing and delivering semiconductor solutions across the spectrum of microelectronics applications. An unrivalled combination of silicon and system expertise, manufacturing strength, Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio and strategic partners positions the Company at the forefront of System-on-Chip (SoC) technology and its products play a key role in enabling today’s convergence markets. The Company’s shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, on Euronext Paris and on the Milan Stock Exchange. In 2006, the Company’s net revenues were $9.85 billion and net earnings were $782 million.
* Frost & Sullivan, “World Smart Card Reader and Chipset Markets”, January 2007