Samsung Electronics to Introduce NFC Chip

Dec 5 2010

Chip supplier Samsung Electronics has announced it is introducing an NFC chip embedded with flash memory, adding a major new supplier for phone makers planning NFC handsets.

Samsung, one of the largest chip makers worldwide, with a strong presence in the smart card market, would join NXP Semiconductors, Inside Contactless and STMicroelectronics, along with one or more Chinese chip makers, in supplying NFC chips for mobile phones. South Korean-based Samsung Electronics, part of the giant Samsung Group, is targeting smartphones with the new NFC chip. Samsung is also the second largest mobile phone maker worldwide.

"As momentum builds for adoption of NFC technology in next-generation upcoming smartphones, we look forward to securing a competitive footing in NFC-based solutions with our new NFC technology, offering powerful mobile characteristics, such as low-power design and advanced RF sensitivity," Tae-Hoon Kim, vice president of Samsung Electronics' DDI and C&M marketing, System LSI Division, said in a statement.

Samsung said it plans to have the chip available for production in the first quarter of 2011. Samsung in the statement quoted a projection from research firm IMS Research that phones with NFC functionality would begin shipping in 2011 and would reach 26% of phone shipments by 2015.

Update: The new chip supports the single-wire protocol standard, or SWP, enabling applications to be stored on SIM cards in NFC phones, a Samsung spokeswoman told NFC Times. Beginning in the first quarter of 2011, the NFC chip also will come with an embedded secure element to store applications, and so the new product would support both the SWP and embedded chips, said the spokeswoman. End update

Samsung in the statement said the chip is the industry's first to adopt flash for embedded memory, which "allows device designers to easily upgrade software or firmware." This likely refers to software on the handset.

Although the Samsung Electronics division is No. 2 worldwide after Nokia in mobile phone shipments, Samsung’s chip unit will not automatically be the preferred supplier of NFC chips to Samsung's handset division. The handset unit plans NFC phones based on the Android operating system and other platforms. But NXP has been the phone maker's preferred supplier to date, providing the NFC chips for Samsung's S5230 phone used in pilots in France and Spain, among other places.

Besides, NXP, Inside, STMicroelectronics and Samsung, Japan-based Renesas Electronics also recently announced a combined NFC and secure chip, which can be used for payment and ticketing. And U.S.-based Texas Instruments plans to introduce an NFC chip, though not necessarily for phones, early next year. And Broadcom, also of the United States, plans to offer wireless combo chips incorporating NFC for smartphones in coming years. In China, Shanghai Fudan Microelectronics supplies NFC chips to Chinese handset makers. 


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