LONDON NXP Semiconductors has started sampling to "all the major mobile handset manufacturers" an NFC chip that is fully compliant with the latest mandated specifications for the short range, low power networking standard, including the important Single Wire Protocol connection with the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card and Host Controller Interface.
As such, the device, dubbed the PN544, will almost certainly be the part used by Nokia in the 6216 Classic that the phone maker plans to start shipping in the third quarter, and which will the first to have the NFC capability embedded in the SIM card.
"I can confirm that Nokia is looking at the second generation controller chip, as are other handset makers," Steffan Steinmeier, global business development manager for NFC at NXP, told EE Times . He would not name the other companies that have been sampled, but Samsung, which like Nokia already has NFC enabled phones in the market, is likely to be amongst the Tier ones.
Nokia announced to much fanfare at the recent WIMA NFC Developers Conference that it will be launching this phone, which, the company said, would really energize the sector and enable mobile phone users to access a new range of contactless applications such as mobile payments, transport and ticketing as well as data sharing directly from the mobile phone SIM.
Steinmeier said the device announced Monday (May 11) also has significant advantages over previous NFC chips from NXP and competitors in terms of tighter integration, optimized power management and reduction of the number of external components needed for tuning the antennas.
For instance, the FracNPII integrated in the chip eliminates the need for external crystal oscillators, and a power management unit directly connects to the system battery, obviating the need for external LDOs to supply the NFC IC, and thus improve power management.
He also added NXP worked closely with leading SIM card manufacturers such as Gemalto, Oberthur Technologies and Giesecke & Devrient to ensure SWP interface interoperability including support of the Mifare technology.
The PN544 is also said to be fully backwards compatible and interoperable with existing contactless infrastructure for payments and ticketing, already in place across the world.
Steinmeier suggests "perhaps 50 percent of the handset makers who use the part will also take the protocol stack we are providing with the latest device."
To ensure interoperability the device was designed to support the three main architectures which are used to secure NFC transactions, including the Secure Element within the Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC), within the SD card and within the mobile handset.
Commenting on the PN544, Nav Bains, Senior Director Mobile Money, GSM Association, said, in a statement: "In 2008, the GSMA Pay-Buy-Mobile initiative called for full NFC functionality including the standardized SWP protocol to be available from mid-2009, therefore we very much welcome the introduction of this fully standard compliant NFC product by NXP."
NFC creeps closer to the start line
NFC phone sends all the right messages
NFC meets money: Basics of mobile transactions