In a market-moving shift to offer significant improvements in write speed and operational performance, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) unveiled the RF360, the first smart integrated circuit (IC) platform to be developed specifically to meet the rigorous demands of the contactless government electronic identification market.
The RF360, the smallest smart IC platform in the market, will integrate TI’s ultra-low power MSP430 microcontroller, advanced embedded Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM) and high-performance RF Analog Front-End (AFE) technologies. Leveraging a low power architecture and enhanced write capability, the RF360 smart IC platform will provide fast chip transaction speeds enabling governments to quickly and efficiently produce a multitude of passive electronic identification (ID) such as electronic passports (e-passports) and national ID cards.
Faster data-write and transaction read times along with enhanced security and reliability are key requirements for government electronic ID. The RF360 smart IC platform is based on a “grounds-up” design approach to a secure architecture that builds upon TI’s 130 nanometer (nm) chip process technology, 16-bit MSP430 microcontroller, innovative non-volatile FRAM and high-performance AFE. The RF360 will deliver enhanced analog chip sensitivity which will improve read and write robustness especially in weak transmit fields from RF readers. Compared with existing contactless smart IC solutions, the 130 nm manufacturing process will give customers significant advantages in terms of die size and power efficiency while the combination of proven, innovative technologies will deliver an IC that is faster and more reliable.
TI’s new smart IC platform will provide both the memory and processing performance to accommodate current and future security and encryption requirements, such as Basic Access Control (BAC) and Extended Access Control (EAC) requirements developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It will integrate advanced security countermeasures and is designed to meet the stringent requirements of the EAL5+ security certification per the BSI (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik) Smartcard protection profile (BSI-PPP-0002). The RF360 will also feature innovative, fast hardware co-processors on the chip which support both public key cryptography (RSA, Elliptic Curve) and symmetric key cryptography (DES/Triple DES, AES).
TI’s RF360 platform will easily scale to meet future capabilities of government IDs such as larger amounts of memory for additional biometrics and multiple application credentials. It will further accommodate write-on-the-fly scenarios, including entry/exit information and electronic visas. The RF360 architecture will support both contactless (ISO/IEC 14443 air interface protocol) and contact (ISO/IEC 7816 smart card interface protocol) communication. The RF360 smart IC platform will support both open standard and native operating systems. It will also include easy-to-use software tools to enable third-party development similar to other TI semiconductor products.
“Speed, performance and security are driving needs for an advanced smart IC architecture,” said Julie England, vice president of Texas Instruments. “TI’s RF360 platform is designed specifically for our government ID customers to deliver a new generation of smart and secure passports and ID documents that meet those increasing demands.”
Ultra-low power architecture is critical to passive (batteryless) contactless applications such as national IDs and e-passports. With the MSP430 microcontroller as an integral component of the RF360 technology architecture, government ID customers can leverage the world’s most power-efficient microcontroller, used in hundreds of low-power mobile products. The MSP430′s reduced instruction set significantly decreases the size of its software code compared to other microcontrollers on the market driving faster transaction times and lower power consumption.
TI’s RF360 employs an advanced embedded memory technology, called FRAM, which improves the speed and reliability of future smart, secure e-passports and government ID documents. The technology provides a significant improvement over the non-volatile memory technologies used in current electronic government ID, such as Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM) and Flash, offering major advantages in terms of transaction speed, power consumption and enhanced write data reliability.
For more information on how the RF360 platform leverages the advantages of embedded FRAM, please download “The Advantages of FRAM-Based Smart ICs for Next-Generation Government Electronic IDs” at www.ti.com/govidwp.
The RF360 platform’s initial product will be a contactless smart IC and will be manufactured in TI’s production facilities near Dallas in Richardson, Texas. Samples will be available mid-2008.
About Texas Instruments
A technology pioneer in secured contactless applications, Texas Instruments delivers many innovative contactless and secured products to the forefront of electronic ID and payments market. ExxonMobil’s SpeedPass(TM) and the American Express Blue Card leveraged TI’s technical expertise in providing the first “pay-at-the-pump” application and the innovative clear contactless credit card design. TI is developing faster, more secure smart IC applications for the next generation of contactless electronic government-issued identification. High-performance and low-power contactless applications continue to be evidence of TI’s strength in designing robust, yet streamlined products that execute more efficiently. Capitalizing on its competencies in high-volume semiconductor manufacturing and microelectronics packaging, TI is a visionary leader and at the forefront of establishing new markets and international standards for secured contactless applications. For more information, call 1-800-962-7343.
Texas Instruments Incorporated provides innovative DSP and analog technologies to meet our customers’ real world signal processing requirements. In addition to Semiconductor, the company includes the Education Technology business. TI is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has manufacturing, design or sales operations in more than 25 countries. Texas Instruments is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TXN.