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What are RFID Chips? Types, Specifications, and Applications

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Jan 08, 2024
  • RFID
What are RFID Chips?  RFID IC Types, Specifications,  RFID chip Applications

As businesses increasingly implement RFID technology for various business operations whether it is product identification, tracking, inventory management, or order fulfillment, they are also expanding the scope of their knowledge about various types of RFID tags, RFID readers, and RFID antennas they can use, depending upon their business needs.

Businesses are also learning the nitty-gritty of RFID design and manufacturing of RFID tags that they use to tag their valuable assets. 

Through this blog, I will explain an important component of RFID tag design, which is the RFID microchip, used in RFID labels and tags.

What are RFID Chips?

An RFID chip is basically the brain of the RFID tag, also known as the integrated circuit of the RFID tag. It is this microchip that is used to store the specific product identifier (EPC) and other crucial details about the product. 

There are three kinds of RFID tags that are used, namely passive RFID tags, active RFID tags, and semi-passive RFID tags or battery-assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags. In the case of active or semi-active RFID tags, the microchip inside the tag uses the power from the battery embedded in the tag to process the interrogation request from an RFID reader whereas in passive RFID tags, the tag antenna captures the interrogating RF signal from the reader to power the microchip to send the encoded data to the reader which is decoded for the end users.

The choice of microchip and antenna design plays a great role in overall tag design and tag capabilities. There are various RFID microchip manufacturing companies that excel in chip design and manufacturing. 

Companies like Impinj, NXP, and Alien Technology are popular for their innovation in RFID chip design and manufacturing, creating various kinds of chips in terms of read-write capabilities, size, memory capacity, power consumption, etc. 

Types of RFID Chips

In recent years, we have seen several advancements in RFID chip design and RFID tag design by extension. Prominent companies like NXP Semiconductors and Alien Technology have produced billions of RFID ICs, known for their advanced RFID IC design and innovation in Radio Frequency Identification. 

Typically RFID chips are categorized according to their operating frequency range including  ultra-high frequency (860MHz~960MHz), high frequency (13.56MHz), and low frequency (125 kHz).

 Now, let’s move further to understand more features of these RFID chips briefly:

Ultrahigh Frequency RFID Chips (UHF RFID Chips)

UHF RFID Chips operate at a frequency of 860MHz-960MHz. The UHF chip transfers energy through an electric field. It has a long reading distance and can reach up to 10 meters.

Features of UHF RFID chips

1. It has different operating frequencies globally: Europe and parts of Asia are 868MHz, North America is between 902 and 928MHz, and Japan is between 950MHz and 956. 

2. The UHF frequency chip is based on a single global standard called the EPCglobal Gen2 (ISO 18000-63) UHF standard.

3. Their reading distance is generally more than 100mm, and the typical reading distance is 4m to 6m, with a maximum of 10m.

4. The power output of this frequency is defined (4W in the United States and 500mW in Europe)

5. The radio waves in the ultra-high frequency cannot pass through many materials, such as water, and metal.

6. The antennas of RFID UHF tags are generally long strips. The antenna is designed with linear polarity and circular polarization to perform different applications.

7. It has a high data transmission rate and can quickly read a large number of electronic tags.

Applications of UHF RFID Chips

1. Logistics and supply chain management

2. Automatic management of the production line

3. Container management

4. Logistics management system

5. Container identification

Commonly Used UHF RFID Chip

Alien

Impinj       

NXP 

EM

      1. Higgs 3

      2. Higgs 4

      3. Higgs 9

      1. Monza 3

      2. Monza 5

      3. Monza 4D/Monza 4E

      4. Monza 4QT

      5. Monza R6/Monza R6-P

      6. Monza X-2K

      7. Monza X-8K

      1. Ucode HSL

      2. G2XL/G2XM

      3. G2iM/G2iM+

      4. G2iL/G2iL+

      5. Ucode 7/Ucode7m

      6. Ucode 8/Ucode 8m

      1. EM4324(Semi-passive)

      2.EM4124

      3. EM4126

      4. EM4325

      5. EM4423

Some of the prominent RFID microchips by various chip manufacturing companies:

Alien Higgs 9

The Alien Higgs-9 RFID Integrated Circuit (IC) by Alien Technology is their most advanced RFID microchip to date. 

Alien technology, for over 25 years, has been known for its advanced IC and RFID tag design and innovations. 

The UHF RFID chip is ISO 18000-6C and EPCglobal Class 1 Gen 2 compliant and offers next-generation large memory, 1024 bits (Total memory). The RFID chips best-in-class read and write sensitivity and come with large 96-496 bits EPC memory and 48 bits unique TID.

The tags and inlays manufactured using this microchip offer a read range of 13m. 

Impinj M830 and M850 RAIN RFID Chips

For over 20 years, Impinj Inc. has been popular for its RFID chips, readers, and other RFID components. Its RAIN RFID M800 series RFID ICs, namely M830 and M850 are best-in-class UHF RFID chips.

These chips are RAIN RFID ISO 18000-6C and EPCglobal gen2v2 compliant and offer EPC memory of 128 bits and 96 bits respectively. The M850 also offers a 32-bit user memory. Their microchips are designed to offer a read sensitivity of -25.5 dBm and Impinj autotune v3 and clutter-free performance. 

These RFID chips offer low power consumption and high readability, which means businesses can use a single, small tag across a broad range of items in retail and departmental stores. 

Impinj Monza R6 Series RFID Chips

 Monza R6 is another popular UHF RFID chip from Impinj Inc. It is very versatile and can be used in various retail, healthcare, and supply chain applications. 

These RFID ICs include flexible memory options for 96 / 128-bit EPC and 32 / 64-bit user memory, plus serialized Tag ID.

The Impinj Monza R6 protects the brand against counterfeiting and offers customer satisfaction. Businesses can use RFID tags with Monza R6 for various retail operations such as smart fitting rooms, inventory management, POS, etc. 

NXP’s UCODE 9xm

The UCODE 9xm RAIN RFID by NXP semiconductors is a popular RFID chip that offers high performance and customer-configurable memory which adds to the various industrial applications. 

NXP Semiconductors is a leading company in RFID and NFC IC designs, providing billions of ICs since 1988. 

The UCODE 9xm offers -24dBm read sensitivity and -22dBm write sensitivity for faster reading and writing purposes. It also facilitates smaller tag antenna design, allowing for smaller items to be tagged as well. With a total of 880 bits of memory, up to 496 bits of EPC, and 752 bits of user memory, UCODE 9xm facilitates automation in retail, healthcare, and supply chain applications amongst others. 

 

It also comes with memory protection an Error Code Correction (ECC) algorithm and parity checks for better use. 

High Frequency RFID Chips (HF RFID Chips)

The working frequency of HF frequency is 13.56MHz. Like LF RFID chips, HF RFID chips are also generally passive and do not need batteries, and the reading distance is less than 100 mm.

Features of HF RFID Chips

1. HF frequency is 30kHz~300kHz. But they typically operate on a frequency of 13.56MHz. 

2. They are based on protocols ISO14443A/ ISO 14443B, ISO15693/ISO18000-3M (general distance is 1-10cm), ISO15693 chip can reach about 1 meter.

3. Larger chip capacity selection, higher chip safety performance.

4. HF RFID chips feature anti-collision and can read multiple electronic tags simultaneously.

5. System setup cost and label cost are moderate.

6. Although the magnetic field area of this frequency decreases rapidly, it can produce a relatively uniform read-write area.

7. The data transmission rate is faster than the low-frequency RFID tag, and the price is not very expensive.

Applications of HF RFID Chips

1. Access control

2. Asset tracking and management 

3. Cargo and supply logistics

4. Customer service and loss control

5. Security traceability

6. Ticket management

Common Types of HF RFID Chips

ISO14443A – NXP CHIPS MIFARE SERIES

 

Name

Series

Applications

Features

      1. MIFARE Classic EV1 1K(S50)

      2. MIFARE Classic EV1 4K(S70)

M1-MIFARE Classic Series

Access control,

Electronic wallet,

Access management,

Scorecard etc.

It features all-in-one card applications

 

It features encryption of data

     1. MIFARE Ultralight(17PF & 50PF)

     2. MIFARE Ultralight EV1

     3. MIFARE Ultralight C

MIFARE Ultralight Series

Ticket card,

Access control,

Event ticket, etc.

Better Encryption performance

      1. MIFARE Plus S 1K

      2. MIFARE Plus S 1K SE

      3. MIFARE Plus S 2K / S 4K

      4. MIFARE Plus X 2K / X 4K MIFARE Plus EV1 2K / X 4K ( 17或70pF )

M2-MIFARE Plus Series 

Public transport,

Access control,

Payment, etc.

Divided into S Standard Edition and X Edition, 4UID, and 7UID

 

It features an AES algorithm for data encryption

      1. MIFARE DESFire 2K / EV1 2K / EV2 2K

      2. MIFARE DESFire 4K / EV1 4K / EV2 4K

      3. MIFARE DESFire 8K / EV1 8K / EV2 8K

M3-MIFARE DESFire     

Finance,

Payment field,

Industrial application

NFC Type 4 standard features  High encryption levels


Using DES, 2K3DES, 3K3DES, and AES hardware for encryption engines

 

 

ISO14443A – NXP CHIPS NTAG SERIES

 

NTAG Series       

Applications

Features    

      1. NTAG 210

      2. NTAG 212

      3. NTAG 213

      4. NTAG 215

      5. NTAG 216(50PF)

Smart toys & Games,

Anti-counterfeiting,

Smart advertising, etc.

NFC Type 2 chip

NDEF formatting

 

encrypted and locked UID mirroring and counting

      1. NTAG 213/216F   

Bluetooth pairing,

Smart toys,

Games,

Smart advertising, etc.

QFN package efficient 

Trigger function

 

Suitable for PCB, PFC, and other packaging forms

Paired through Bluetooth communication



 

      1. NTAG I²C 1K(888 Bytes)

 

      2. NTAG I²C 2K 1904 Bytes)

Advanced device pairing (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi),

Commodity and device verification,

Connection switching, games, etc.

Contact interface for interface communication


QFN encapsulation

suitable for PCB, PFC, and other encapsulation forms

      1. NTAG 213 TT

Product verification, Anti-counterfeiting,

Intelligent advertising,

Electronic shelf labels, etc.

With one-time open state (open-loop) tamper-proof detection

 

NDEF format chip

With UID mirroring and counting function.

      1. NTAG 413DNA

Access management, Electronic shelf tags, Web-based product certification, etc.

AES algorithm for encryption and authentication

Tamper-proof security hardware

With UID mirroring and counting function

ISO14443A TYPE 4 OTHER CHIPS

ST25TA Series    

Features    

Applications

       1. ST25TA16K/64K

       2. ST25TA512/02K

       3. ST25TA02K-P/02K-D

(Fast pairing for Bluetooth Wi-Fi)

      1. 128bit password, NDEF format

      2. Support 25PF and 50PF

      3. High-speed response-ability

      4. Data retention up to 200 years

      5. 1 million erasable times

     1. NFC payment

     2. Smart Poster

     3. NFC business card

     4. Game tags

 

Low-Frequency RFID Chips

LF RFID chips have a frequency range of 30 kHz to 300 kHz. However, they typically operate on frequencies between 125 kHz and 132 kHz. Most of the Low-frequency tags are passive tags that obtain energy from the radiation near the field of the reader coupling coil by inductive coupling. When sending data between the low-frequency chip and the reader, the low-frequency chip should be in the reader antenna's near-field area. In most cases, the reading distance is less than one meter.

Features of LF RFID Chips

1. They are capable of operating frequency is 30kHz-300kHz, but the typical working frequency is 125 kHz-134.2 kHz.

2. LF RFID chips use ISO7814, and ISO7815 protocols (generally 3-10cm in distance), a remote chip can achieve 1.5 meters.

3. Only for metal material, LF RFID Chips can pass through objects of any material without reducing their reading distance.

4. LF RFID chips have a low data rate and can only read one at a time compared with other frequency chips.

5. The system construction cost is relatively low because the label cost is high.

6. It has a life expectancy of more than 10 years.

Applications of LF RFID Chips

1. Animal Husbandry - Livestock Production Management

2. RFID Car keyless entry system

3. Access control and security management system

4. Automatic vehicle management system

Read and write capabilities of common LF RFID Chips

Read Only

Read & Write

  • TK4100
  •  EM4200
  • ATMEL5577 (T5577)
  •  HID card (26-bit format: H10301)
  •  EM4305 / EM4469
  •  EM4450
  •  NXP Hitag 1/ Hitag 2/ Hitag S256 /Hitag S2048
  • SIC7999 / SIC7888

 

 

To conclude, RFID chip or IC design has evolved over the years with various RFID chip manufacturing companies including Impinj Inc., NXP semiconductors, Alien Technology, etc. at helm. These companies are known to create various RFID integrated circuits that not only offer high memory capabilities but high tag read and writing features, allowing for flexible and scalable use in retail, healthcare, supply chains and logistics, transportation, and library operations.

Various popular UHF RFID chips include Impinj Monza R6, Impinj M800 series, NXP UCODE 9xm, and Alien Higgs-9, offering high read range and clutter free performance in read extensive applications, including industrial and commercial settings.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.


  • Created on Dec 27, 2023
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