HF, NFC, and UHF chips

Powerful ICs for the Secure IoT of Tomorrow

NXP Semiconductors, a leader in RFID tag ICs, presents the highlights of its current HF, NFC, and UHF product portfolio.

NXP’s RFID product range covers all major frequencies including LF, HF/NFC, and UHF. So whether an application requires withstanding a harsh environment, must work at long range or high speed, or requires proximity NFC for secure transactions, the broad portfolio is able to offer a solution In interviews with RFID & Wireless IoT Global, Experts of NXP Semiconductors are looking at newest chip developments for innovative tag features.

Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw, Global Marketing Manager – NFC Smart Consumer Products, Johannes Grüll, Global Marketing Manager – Consumables & Accessories, Gaming, Medical, and Ralf Kodritsch, Director Global Segment Manager RFID Solutions, NXP Semiconductors, in Interviews with RFID & Wireless IoT Global.


In 2017, NXP introduced the new UCODE 8 UHF RFID chip designed for retail and rugged industrial environments. The UCODE 8m variant shortens the 124-bit EPC to 96 bits in order to make room for 32 bits of user memory.

LOWER ENERGY Use Improves All Performance Metrics

The most important feature of the UCODE 8 is its low energy consumption. “Compared to competitors, the UCODE 8 has a 20 percent lower energy consumption. Energy consumption has a large impact on overall tag performance – the chip can be read from a greater distance, the accuracy of bulk reading increases, and the time needed for each reading is reduced. With the UCODE 8, inventory processes become faster and more accurate,” Ralf Kodritsch explains.

BRAND IDENTIFIER Provides Unique Identification

A new optional feature is the so-called “brand identifier”. During IC manufacturing, the UCODE 8 can be irreversibly encoded with the retailer or brand identity. This unique feature supports brand protection efforts and is available on demand.

GS1 STANDARD Compliant “UNTRACEABLE” Command Masks Chip Content

The UCODE 8 introduces a new privacy feature: “With the ‚untraceable‘ command, retailers can mask the product‘s EPC, TID, and user memory at the point of sale, or artificially reduce the tag reading range to nearfield. If the customer return the item, the retailer can reset the chip to its full read range and reveal all its memory content,” Ralf Kodritsch reports.

SELF-ADJUST Ensures Peak UHF Performance

Tag performance is improved by the “self-adjust” feature: The chip always tunes itself according to the substrate and environment materials. “This way, the UCODE 8 always reaches maximum performance and reading range, whether it is applied to fabrics, leather, plastics, or metal. It also adjusts to the different UHF frequency ranges being used in North America and Europe,” Ralf Kodritsch explains. Gold connectors protect against corrosion for rugged industrial applications.


The UCODE DNA was introduced in 2015. The name hints at its core features: unambiguous, unique UHF identification and cryptographic security according to ISO standards.

STRENGTH: Automatic Vehicle Identification

“The UCODE DNA was developed to provide security for Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) and Track & Trace applications,” Ralf Kodritsch explains. “It can be included on a windshield, license plate, headlight, or dashboard label – and it guarantees secure vehicle identification even in moving traffic. Several countries, such as Kenya and the Philippines, have already implemented the UCODE DNA nationwide. Vehicles are outfitted with windshield labels to allow automated access to partnering parking garages, car washes, and more.”


NXP developed a two-key AES encryption and an AES digital core for the UCODE DNA, allowing different authorised users to access different data. “Police could have access to data set A, while the regulatory agency has access to data set B. Due to its cryptographic strength and its high memory capacity, it is uniquely suited to secure identification applications: 3000 bits of data are available, including an extended 224-bit EPC.”

UCODE DNA TRACK for Track & Trace Applications

In 2017, NXP launched the UCODE DNA Track variant. “The UCODE DNA Track is designed for Track & Trace applications involving high-value goods. To ensure sufficient memory for supply chain relevant data, the EPC has been lengthened to 448 bits.“


The ICODE HF RFID IC is designed to provide high reliability to closed-loop applications, such as consumables & accessories tagging, medical applications, libraries, retail and production flow control. Compared to UHF, HF is more robust against distortions such as water and metal and is thus well-suited for rugged industrial environments. The medium reading range helps to prevents double-counting and enables streamlined, secure RFID applications.

BASED ON ISO 15693 – And Exceeding It

ICODE is based on the ISO 15693 standard for HF RFID tags. Adherence to ISO standards enables backwards compatibility, allowing users to confidently upgrade their ICs and reap the benefits of the newest tag generation: “The potential reading range and speed of the new ICODE ICs exceed those specified for HF tags.

With large antennas commonly used in libraries and laundries, users can reach up to 1.5 metres of reading range. With small antennas ICODE is the perfect chip family for integraiton into products you want to connect to the IoT,” Global Marketing Manager Johannes Grüll reports.

READING SPEEDS of Up to 600 Chips per Second

The ICODE‘s anti-collision speed and number of chips read per second exceed the HF specification as well. Johannes Grüll explains: “ISO 15693 specifies 60 chips per second. The ICODE SLIX2 can read 90 chips per second due to its optimised anti-collision procedure. And the ICODE ILT relies on UHF-inspired anti-collision features to read up to 600 chips per second.

This feature makes it uniquely suited for stacking applications, such as large volumes of apparel, laundry, or casino chips. High-speed applications such as these require no specialised readers, just EPC Gen2v2-capable devices.”


The DNA product lines of the NTAG and ICODE portfolio come with high-level security features to enable a broad range of product protection and trusted services, such as advanced product and document authentication, secure identification of tools and consumables, or authorized access and log-in credentials.

PROTECTING Back-End Systems

IoT adoption creates more and more entry points into companies‘ back-end systems. Johannes Grüll illustrates the potential challenges: “Companies are rapidly moving services and customer engagement programs to the cloud. The easiest link between end customers and companies is the product your customer is buying from you. It is key to secure the entry point to your backend system and establish endto- end-security to ensure that there really is a customer tapping your product, not a botnet guessing UIDs.”


NXP’s DNA lines come with standard AES- 128 cryptography and other useful security features such as mutual (tag-reader) authentication. “These help strengthen brands and add value at every point in the product life cycle, by providing each items with a secure digital identity or DNA”, says Sylvia-Kaiser-Kershaw “Item-level identities can be verified and securely authenticated via professional HF readers as well as NFC enabled smartphones in consumers’ hands “, says Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw.

AN INDUSTRY-FIRST … SUN Feature for TAP-UNIQUE Authentication

NTAG413 DNA, an NFC Forum compliant Type 4 Tag, comes with AES cryptography and a new SUN mechanism that generates a secure unique NFC message authentication each time the tag is tapped. SUN adds security to the data read, while being accessible with standard NFC phone readers, including Android and Apple iOS11 phones. In this way, SUN protects the tag and its message, whilst securing physical tag presence – vital features to fully protect and enhance today’s user experiences.


NXP‘s ever growing NTAG product family enables the connection of everyday consumer products to the IoT. Consumers can tap the NTAG with their NFC-ready mobile device and receive additional information and services in real-time, such as proof of origin, instructions for use, loyalty programs, access to social communities and more. “Beyond business-to-consumer applications, there’s also a trend towards NFC-based business-to-business applications for smarter supply chains and industrial applications.” All NTAG products (based on ISO 14443 standard) are NFC Forum compliant.

NTAG “MIRRORING” Features for Added NFC Value

Distinguishing features of the NTAG family are the so-called “mirrors”. These allow to mirror tag IC individual and dynamic data, such as UID, NFC tap counter, tag tamper message, or SUN authentication message, in ASCII code into the IC’s user memory containing an NFC-NDEF message like a URL. This enables the transmission of tag IC individual and dynamic data to the cloud without the need of dedicated commands within an App on Android mobile phones, whilst also allowing to read dynamic data of the tag with iPhone 7 or higher based on iOS11.

NTAG213 TAGTAMPER With Smart Status Awareness

NTAG213 TagTamper is an NXP tag innovation, which can deliver multi-.application performance. Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw: “A digital signature and tamper evident feature support anti-counterfeiting and tamper-proofing, while the tag also enhances consumer experiences, by enabling interactions based on real-time product status. For example, before purchase, messages can include product specifics and vouchers, whilst after purchase, messages can include after-sale services, loyalty rewards, e-commerce and more.”

The NTAG213 TagTamper can be placed on a product’s label, seal. closure, or container – and information can be accessed by a simple tap of an NFC device.

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NTAG® 424 DNA Chip
Ralf Kodritsch
Ralf Kodritsch
Director Global Segment Manager RFID Solutions
Gratkorn, Austria
Michael Klein
Michael Klein
Manager, Marketing Communications
Austin, United States
Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw
Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw
Global Marketing - Smart Products & Services
Gratkorn, Austria
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