Optimistic about the development of short-range wireless communication (NFC) technology in the Internet of Things era, including NXP, INSIDE Secure and STMicroelectronics, have separately seized their own product and technology advantages Attack, and actively woo the terminal cooperation manufacturers to consolidate the sales channels, forming a situation based on the hills.
Due to the emergence of near-field wireless communication (NFC) technology in mobile payment and the trend of smart networking, mobile phones and a variety of networked terminal products equipped with NFC chips began to become a trend in 2012, and international chip manufacturers have invested more. Focus on the development of NFC chips. With NXP occupying more than half of the market for NFC chips, how do the second and third INSIDE Secure and STMicroelectronics respond? How to get out of your own path?
Vertical supply chain complete NXP grabs market opportunities
NXP was independent from Philips Electronics in 2006. NXP is based on high-performance mixed-signal technology invented by Philips in the development of electronic products, as well as targeting future networking and energy-saving trends, focusing on the development of automotive, identification, portable devices and computers. ICs in the four major fields of basic equipment and industry, in which identification ICs are the main source of revenue, NFC chips are one of the main products of identification ICs.
In order to lead the competition in the launch of the product, NXP adopts a joint venture and partner model with the terminal manufacturer to construct a vertically integrated supply chain. In terms of hardware design, NXP uses a joint venture approach to form alliances with five front-end fabs and seven back-end package test plants in Europe and Asia. Thanks to the front and rear end of the device, when it is a wafer open specification, it can test its product feasibility and shorten the product development time. In addition, through the improvement of the front-end process and the improvement of the back-end packaging technology, the wafer volume can be reduced. Reduce wafer design costs.
In terms of software and firmware development, NXP has launched a partnership program to establish partnerships with around 70 companies around the world, such as Microsoft, Google, and ARM, in software, operating systems, and software. Collaboration on development tools and software and hardware integration will reduce the cost of developing soft firmware and share the risks of mutual development, and accelerate the introduction of more complete solutions through partners to better understand the market demand.
Since 1994, NXP developed MIFARE technology and promoted it to the transportation market in Europe and America. Although the NFC Forum was established in 2004 to unify NFC technology communication and application standards, MIFARE Classic and Plus standards It has not been included in the NFC Forum, but MIFARE cards based on these two standards are currently widely used in the European and American transportation markets. In 2013, the MIFARE card ranked first in the world’s transportation market, so NXP took advantage of this to introduce the only products in the market that are compatible with both the MIFARE standard and the NFC Forum standard, increasing the versatility of its chips internationally. For example, the PN544 mobile phone NFC chip introduced in 2009 is the only chip on the market that is compatible with MIFARE Classic technology. In addition, in 2014, it also led the industry to introduce its own PN547 mobile phone NFC chip into the HCE (Host Card Emulation) standard promoted by Visa. This standard uses software to simulate the function of a mobile phone into a card and protect the security of NFC transactions without the need for additional security components. This further expands the compatibility and applicability of NFC chips.
Through the partnership, NXP accurately understands the needs of terminal operators and develops wafers for multi-terminal applications. The product line is very comprehensive. When different terminal operators use their chips, they can select the chips to be mounted according to their own needs, which can reduce development costs and time.
MIFARE card is the most widely known and oldest product of NXP. Its main purpose is transportation. The card is divided into one-time type and continuous use type. Ultralight is a one-time use type chip. It has no safety protection mechanism and the application card material is paper, so the terminal Product costs are relatively low. Continuous use of the chip, DESFire and Plus, to the high security evolution, through the international standard EAL (Evaluation Assurance Level) level 4 or above certification (EAL is divided into 7 levels, the higher the level represents higher security); where Plus is Classic upgrade The version has been upgraded in both security and memory capacity, and in order to reduce the cost of product updates, its predecessor products can be upgraded directly through software updates without having to change cards. The Reader chip is specially designed for reading MIFARE cards. To prevent data from being stolen or modified, the security of data transmission and storage is the focus of product evolution.
The chips used in the basic equipment are divided into a central processing unit (CPU) and a CPUless type, and the PN512 has no built-in CPU series, and is mainly applied to an inexpensive, small-sized, single-supply terminal product. In response to the trend of e-commerce, the basic equipment may require more powerful computing functions and security. NXP developed the built-in CPU PN544PC chip in 2012 and improved its security specifications so that the terminal equipment can conduct secure transactions.
Tag, due to the desire to speed up the identification function, the new generation of NTAG21 rewrites the internal script and adds the UIDASCII image function, enabling faster data transfer even under the same standard as the previous generation. At the same time, in order to ensure the security of future actions, add password bits to protect the data in the chip; in addition, consider that in the future, the end products may have Bluetooth or wireless local area network (Wi-Fi) functions, new Increase the field detection mode to speed the pairing between devices.
The new generation PN547 chip for mobile phones was launched in 2012. In order to expand the versatility of this product, NXP enables mobile phones to integrate multi-card functions (such as credit cards, transportation cards, etc.) and is commonly used in countries around the world. The specifications apply to all NFC Forum communication standards, comply with all MIFARE card standards, and can be used to achieve FeliCa card usage through the Single Wire Protocol (SSP). In order to make mobile phone manufacturers and telecom operators more flexible in their choice of secure components, the PN547 chip supports three secure component interfaces. Furthermore, as bankers play an important role in mobile transactions, the security and transaction standards of next-generation chips are oriented toward EMV transaction certification; in addition, NXP reduces wafer costs and shrinks wafers by reducing the size of its antennas and increasing the RF range. volume.
A large number of NFC INSIDE Secure is authorized to profit
INSIDE Secure, formerly INSIDE Contactless, specializes in the development of NFC technology and transaction security technology, so the products are mostly NFC chips for smart cards; in 2010, acquired the security component division of Atmel and changed its name to INSIDE Secure, which announced its commitment to NFC security component development, developed the company’s first NFC security component, valutSEcure, in 2012. Although the company currently focuses on the development of secure components, it has not given up the dominance of smart card NFC chips.
Since the development of NFC technology, INSIDE Secure has a fairly complete NFC infrastructure (IP), but because the NFC chip market for transportation and mobile phones is almost monopolized by NXP, plus the use of mobile phones for payment. When trading, it is necessary to carry a security component to do the card simulation function, the importance of the security component in the mobile payment application, and the technical threshold and profit of the NFC security component are higher than the NFC control chip, so the development of the NFC security component technology is transferred.
At the end of 2012, the company reclassified the company’s business system into two major divisions, namely, operational security and transaction security, and leveraged the IP of NFC technology to gain profits. In 2011, INSIDE Secure licensed NFC IP to Intel, allowing Intel to develop NFC chips for notebooks and tablets; and signed a contract with French patent licensing company France Brevets in 2012 to make most of NFC The IP is handed over to the company for management, and when the manufacturer infringes on its NFC patent, France Brevets is used for patent litigation or authorization.
Starting from the predecessor of INSIDE Contactless, INSIDE Secure focused on the development of NFC chips for smart cards. In 2005, it launched the industry’s first credit card NFC chip MicroPass, and in the year began to cooperate with credit card issuer Visa for the long-term cooperation of Visa. The standard trading technology is written into the MicroPass chip, so it is the main partner of the Visa card.
In addition, although most NFC IPs began to profit from licensing in 2011, they still left the MicroPass chip product line and continued to develop smart card chips for bankers. In order to unify the specification of smart card chips, the card issuer of financial smart card set up the EMVCo alliance and developed the EMV smart card chip security standard. To use the NFC chip on the smart card, it must first pass this security standard, including Specification of wafer hardware specifications and safety certification processes.
Because each card issuer has its own safety certification program specification, when the chip is sold to the card issuer, it must pass the safety certification of each industry. For example, Visa VCSP (Visa Chip Security Platform) mainly regulates the dynamic data security authentication mode, which can generate a unique signature code for each transaction, making the card not easily stolen. MasterCard CAST (Compliance Assessment and Security Testing) mainly verifies whether the chip has the ability to cope with attacks during the transaction and chip circuit security. The Discover zip, proposed by Discover, one of the top four issuing banks in the United States, emphasizes the speed of transactions and the miniaturization of wafers. Therefore, the chips developed by INSIDE Secure mainly pass these four safety certifications, and the main components of the EMV wafers of the three major players are the objects such as the representative chip MicroPass4102/4103.
STMicroelectronics is a semiconductor manufacturer with a fab that is used in five major areas: MEMS manufacturing and sensors, vehicles, energy, microcontrollers (MCUs), and consumer electronics. The NFC chip belongs to the MCU product line. The following is a strategic analysis of the company’s NFC chip.
Since the processor of the mobile device is mostly developed based on the ARM processor architecture, in order to increase the versatility of the product and facilitate the development and use of the terminal industry, STMicroelectronics cooperates with ARM based on its processor architecture. Developed up to 450 kinds of MCUs, including products with high computing speeds and low computing speeds. These MCUs can be equipped with NFC applications in different terminal types as long as they are integrated with the NFC controller. The industry can make the best choice by application and price.
In addition, the company has also developed an MCU for secure components due to the importance of seeing secure components in mobile payment applications. In the NFC security component MCU, due to the different security component modes required by different types of terminal operators, three security component mode products (embedded in mobile phones, embedded in micro SD cards and embedded in SIM cards) are simultaneously developed. For example, a carrier may wish to embed a secure element in a SIM card so that when the customer changes the mobile phone, the basic information in the secure element can be carried. Since the secure component MCU is developed on the ARM architecture like the NFC MCU, the ease of integration between the two can reduce the terminal manufacturer’s product development costs.
When NFC technology is applied to smart networking, mobile phones are generally used to operate peripheral networking devices. Therefore, in addition to mobile phones requiring NFC chips, it is also necessary to install tags on basic devices such as home appliances and medical equipment. EEPROM is widely used in Tag memory based on its repeated read and write, power saving, and long-term preservation of data in the power-off state. STMicroelectronics focuses on Tag product development based on its deep advantage in EEPROM technology. Its Tag products include both RFID and NFC applications and are widely used in logistics, manufacturing, and end-user services.
In addition, the company launched the dynamic Tag chip – M24SR in 2013. By designing the tag as a dual communication interface (RF and I2C communication interface), STMicroelectronics can use the I2C interface to communicate with the MCU inside the basic device when the Tag receives the command through RF communication, instead of just like the traditional tag. Simply read the Tag message. Therefore, when the basic device is equipped with a dynamic tag, the mobile phone can be used to operate the device, and since the basic device does not need to install a keyboard, a screen or a network interface, the cost and volume of the device can be reduced; for example, the meter is loaded into the dynamic tag. You can use the mobile phone to give instructions to the meter, set the upper limit of the meter usage, or read the current amount of electricity used by the meter.
Looking at the product specifications of the three NFC chip manufacturers, we can summarize several common features: wafer miniaturization, power saving, multi-communication standard compatibility, high transmission speed, and the development of various international security certifications. The main reasons are as follows.
First, in response to the trend of paying for action, major manufacturers began to launch mobile phone NFC chips in 2012. The mobile phone NFC chip is an extra chip that is mounted on a mobile phone and cannot replace Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Therefore, it is natural for terminal manufacturers to have smaller, more power-saving, and lower-cost wafers.
Second, when NFC mobile phones are used to pay for transactions, security is very important. The major credit card issuers set up the EMVCo alliance for transaction security and introduced the EMV certification standard for chips. The chip industry must pass this certification before the chips can be used. Opportunity.
Third, under the rise of smart networking, the amount of data to be transmitted will be larger and larger. When NFC technology is used for data transmission, it will inevitably increase its data transmission volume and transmission speed.
Fourth, in order to increase the versatility of NFC chips, the terminal industry is easy to adopt, and the chips introduced today are also in line with the communication standards of all NFC Forums.
In addition, in order to develop wafers that are more in line with market demand and reduce the product development costs of terminal manufacturers, all three major manufacturers are actively cooperating with terminal manufacturers and thereby consolidating sales channels.
Source: New Electronics / Xie Yaofang 2014/8 ( http://www.mem.com.tw/article_content.asp?sn=1408080006 )
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