Broadcom 40NM NFC CMOS chip: for payments and beyond

At P&T/Expo Comm this week, Broadcom will unveil its latest communication chips for NFC-enabled smartphones and state-of-the-art solutions designed specifically to manage the exponential growth in network traffic.

Broadcom is gearing up for the P&T/Expo Comm in China this week with the announcement of its new 40NM NFC chip. Broadcom will be demoing the new chip set at the conference and has high hopes that it will provide a solid product to capture the rapidly growing demand for mobile communications options.

From NFC Times:

The chip, the BCM2079x, could be used for device pairing and content sharing between smartphones and other devices and also to support payment and ticketing.

Broadcom’s announcement said the chip supports both a single-wire protocol connection–enabling applications on SIM cards–as well as interfaces for embedded secure chips. It also said the chip is the “only NFC controller to integrate transaction-based Application ID routing for simultaneous support of multiple secure elements within a single device.

From the press release:

“The accelerated adoption of NFC will transform the use of smartphones, advancing beyond contactless mobile payments and ticketing to enable radically simplified connectivity between the handset and other devices like Bluetooth headsets and Wi-Fi-enabled digital televisions.

  • New BCM2079x solutions are the industry’s first NFC chips manufactured in 40 nm CMOS process for smaller size and the industry’s lowest power consumption
  • Transaction-based Application ID routing provides unmatched support for all business models, with the ability to simultaneously use multiple secure elements or SIM cards for authentication and mobile payments
  • Advanced Maestro™ middleware allows new NFC applications to also utilize Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities in the device

Broadcom's vision of the NFC ecosystem

An accelerated adoption of NFC could transform the use of smartphones, advancing beyond contactless mobile payments and ticketing to enable radically simplified connectivity between the handset and other devices like Bluetooth headsets and Wi-Fi-enabled digital televisions. The proliferation of NFC has the ability to expand the usefulness of smartphones and inspire a range of new applications built on the ability to create simple, secure connections between devices and enable services with a touch of the phone.

Craig Ochikubo, vice president and general manager for Broadcom's wireless personal area networking unit

“Broadcom has already demonstrated its leadership in helping drive adoption of technologies like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in smartphones and other consumer electronics products, having established itself as the leading supplier of wireless connectivity combo chips to handset makers. The features and capabilities of these new solutions position the company to follow a similar trajectory with NFC.”

John Devlin, Group Director, Security and Identification, ABI Research

“Broadcom is committed to making NFC as ubiquitous as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are today. These solutions provide the features and performance that enable disruptive innovation that will reshape the mobile consumer experience. Our leadership and proficiency in wireless connectivity influenced the architecture of these new chips to meet the performance required by OEMs, allowing them to more easily add NFC to their designs.”

Craig Ochikubo, VP and GM, Wireless Personal Area Networks, Broadcom Corporation

From EETimes:

Broadcom said the BCM2079x family reduces power consumption by more than 90 percent, uses 40 percent fewer components and has a 40 percent smaller board area compared to the previous generation of Broadcom’s NFC chips. According to the company, BCM2079x chips are the smallest and most power efficient NFC solutions on the market.”

From EWeek:

Electromagnetic vibration energy harvester

“NFC, for it to have any degree of utility, has to be on 100 percent of the time. It’s just going to spend the majority of its time just listening to make some type of transaction, whether it’s a data file transfer or making a payment. That’s why we’re really attacking this whole power consumption piece.”

Moreover, Broadcom’s NFC chips support field power harvesting, allowing the chip to draw energy from the environment so it can support transactions even if the phone battery is spent.

This feature alone could draw attention from rivals NXP and Samsung. If there is one thing Google Wallet has been heavily criticized for, it’s that it won’t work when the phone battery dies. Consumers can’t pay for goods when they’re phones are out of juice and their wallets are stuffed in sock drawers at home.”

More in the Innovision acquisition from NFC Times:

“The chip maker more than a year ago finalized its $47.5 million purchase of UK-based Innovision, which supplied Broadcom and other chip makers with intellectual property for incorporating NFC in combo wireless chips.

Innovision's low-cost NFC chip

Combo chips, which also can variously include such wireless technologies as FM radio and GPS, are used in a variety of smartphones and the expectation is that smartphone makers will eventually order the chips supporting NFC, as well. The combo chips save both space and money compared with separate chips covering the different wireless technologies.

The Innovision acquisition also gave Broadcom an NFC-tag unit. The chip maker is no doubt using IP it acquired from Innovision in the standalone chip, said observers.”

From an older post on Innovision from UK Technology Live:

“Innovision, which is joining the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) missions in July, supplies a range of chips and intellectual property into China for applications including contactless transport tickets and cards.

“We expect that 15 to 20 percent of all the handsets shipped globally in 2012 to include low-cost NFC technology,” said David Dent, Vice President Asia Pacific Sales, Innovision Research & Technology. “Since most mobile manufacturing now happens in China, it is important for us to build our presence in the market. Never mind the billions of potential consumers in the region.”

“People have talked about contactless technology on mobile phones for a long time. The problem has been that it has been expensive and time consuming to integrate NFC into mobile devices. This is changing and by demonstrating a solution that delivers the technology simply, quickly and cost effectively, we hope to engage with the Chinese manufacturers to adopt leading British technology across the world.”

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.

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