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NXP Semiconductors Introduces New PN7220 NFC Controller

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NXP Semiconductors Introduces New PN7220 NFC Controller

New PN7220 NFC Controller Drives the Shift to Next-Gen, Android-Driven POS Terminals

The latest addition to NXP’s industry-leading portfolio of NFC controllers, the highly integrated PN7220 is optimized for the next generation of point-of-sale (POS) terminals. It supports Android-based operation, combines payments with other services and delivers exceptional performance, even with bigger POS screens. And it does this all while simplifying design-in, reducing footprint, and enabling easy migration from current NFC frontend ICs, including the popular PN5190.

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The Shift to Android

The POS industry has seen significant innovation in recent years, driven by advancements in technology such as cloud computing, mobile connectivity and data analytics. These innovations have led to more efficient, adaptable and user-friendly solutions for businesses of all sizes, from small retailers to enterprise chains.

In recent years, the industry’s move to contactless technology, based on NFC, has made it simpler to make payments using a range of new devices, including smartphones and wearables. Throughout this transition to contactless, however, POS systems have mostly remained tied to the Linux operating system (OS). A shift to Android offers the potential for an exciting new world for retailers.

Android terminals are easier to upgrade than older terminals, which are often built using a proprietary version of Linux, and Android terminals also make it easier to add new features. That’s because the NFC Controller Interface (NCI) is an interface that’s natively optimized for Android systems and is widely used in mobile phones. Adding NCI to the latest POS terminal simplifies the communication between the NFC reader and the Android application processor in the POS terminal.

Multi-Use Functionality

The PN7220 is the first EMVCo3.x and NFC Forum-compliant NFC controller to feature an NCI 2.2 interface for the connection of multiple host processors. The PN7220 supports the NCI 2.2 interface with an optimized NCI 2.2 software stack, which makes it easier to meet the timing requirements for EMVCo transactions. As a result, POS systems that deploy the PN7220 deliver the fast, friction-free transactions that consumers expect.

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By supporting more than one processor, the PN7220 makes it possible for the POS terminal to perform multiple functions, not just payment. Here are just a few examples of multi-use functionality:

  • Loyalty Cards: POS terminals can accept loyalty cards, which have been shown to increase customer engagement and create a positive experience that increases brand loyalty.
  • Digital Receipts: The POS system can send a digital receipt to the customer’s mobile device, bypassing the need for paper receipts generated by a printer.
  • Ticketing: Retailers can increase revenue by selling tickets at physical locations, without needing to add extra hardware or risk compromising security.
  • Unattended Payments: POS terminals can be equipped to support payments in unattended locations, such as in parking lots or as part of vending machines.
  • Healthcare Terminals: Using a secure processor to protect private information, such as patient name and date of birth, healthcare terminals can process payments while meeting regulatory requirements for privacy.
  • EV Charging Stations: The payment terminal can be programmed to interact with the charge point management system (CPMS), to calculate the session price before collecting payment.

There are several benefits to multi-use tap functionality. It can reduce costs when it comes to parts and materials, for starters. Retailers don’t need to rely on multiple devices, or terminals with several different sensors, to deliver additional features. There’s also potential to speed up the customer experience, with the ability for customers to use a single device to do things like accrue loyalty points while paying for products with a single tap, for example.

Seamless Switching Between EMVCO and NFC

To ensure smooth operation when switching between EMVCo and NFC operation, the PN7220 includes two independent polling loops selectable by the application processor. Each polling loop, one for EMVCo and one for NFC Forum, includes a dedicated set of optimized RF parameters. Before the system switches from one mode to the other, all previous data from earlier communications are erased and the NCI software stack is reset. The design can use a single antenna to support EMVCo and NFC Forum applications for a highly compact footprint.

Bigger, High-Resolution Screens

Along with the transition to Android, we’re also starting to see bigger, higher-resolution screens in the latest-generation devices. While larger, crisper screens have obvious benefits, they pose a challenge to RF operations like NFC, since they generate more noise.

Noise can be particularly tricky to deal with in a terminal that has the NFC radio located behind the display. The PN7220 controller uses a number of features — including RF output power of 2.0 W, high receiver sensitivity and various on-board functions, such as dynamic power control (DPC), automatic waveshape control (AWC) and automatic error handling — to create distinct advantage when it comes to operation in difficult environments, such as exposure to metal or noise, or the use of a small antenna. These same features, along with integrated contactless EMV L1 and NFC Forum compliant firmware, also simplify certification, so developers can finish their designs faster.

Quick In-the-Field Updates

The PN7220 supports firmware updates without a dedicated external pin. The firmware updates are done by an encrypted and signed firmware which is offered by NXP. This enables easy EMVCo updates, so the design keeps current with evolving EMVCo operations.

Simple Upgrade for Existing Designs  

Development teams can quickly expand their NFC-enabled product families to include EMVCo payments, because the PN7220 is backward compatible with other NXP NFC controllers. It uses the same NFC frontend antenna connection and power-supply pinning as the PN5190, and uses the same Android 13 middleware as the PN7160.  

Time-Saving Development Boards  

For fast design-in, the NXP PN7220 Development Board (PNEV7220BP1) connects to an NXP i.MX 8M evaluation kit with an Android host. Another option is to use the PNEV7220BP2 board, which includes an NXP K82 processor and connects to an additional host. The debug and supply lines on both boards are equipped with 45x45mm NFC antenna with copper damping to simulate a typical application situation. Both boards are also fully validated and compliant with EMVCo 3.1 and NFC Forum requirements. The PCB layout, which includes blocking capacitors, a DC/DC coil and an EMC filter, can be copied and used as a reference design in the customer application. The boards also support NFC Cockpit, NXP’s intuitive GUI for configuring and adapting IC settings without having to write software code.  

Accelerating Change  

POS systems are only just starting to make the switch from Linux to Android, but retailers and consumers are both seeing the benefit. The PN7220 can help accelerate the transition to Android-based POS terminals while helping development teams save time when delivering next-generation POS systems.

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Ralf Kodritsch
Ralf Kodritsch
Director Global Segment Manager RFID Solutions
Gratkorn, Austria
Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw
Sylvia Kaiser-Kershaw
Global Marketing - Smart Products & Services
Gratkorn, Austria
James Goodland
James Goodland
Director, RAIN RFID Solutions
, Great Britain
Venis Kalderon
Venis Kalderon
Marketing Communications Manager
Hamburg, Germany
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