Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

NXP RFID tag combines long-range reading with cryptographic authentication

Steve Rogerson
April 28, 2015
Dutch company NXP Semiconductors has introduced its latest Ucode product, Ucode DNA, claimed to be the world's first UHF (ultra-high frequency) Rain RFID tag IC to combine long-range read performance with cryptographic authentication. With this tag IC developers no longer have to choose between contactless performance and the need for security in their applications; it lets them to have access to both in one tag IC.
The IC is suitable for use in applications such as electronic road tolling, electronic vehicle registration, licence plate authentication, access control, asset tracking, brand protection, parking, and fast visitor processing and special service offering at large scale venues, sports stadiums or entertainment parks.
The Rain RFID Alliance is hosted by AIM, a non-profit organisation. Rain promotes awareness, education and initiatives to accelerate the adoption in business and consumer applications worldwide of passive UHF RFID standards developed by GS1 (EPC Gen 2 v2) and incorporated by ISO/IEC 18000-63.
Cryptographic authentication provides dynamic security with each transmission being different from the one before therefore reducing the ability for data to be emulated. The Ucode DNA provides ISO/IEC 29167-10 cryptographic security using a 128bit key based on AES encryption algorithms and is designed in accordance with the GS1 EPC Gen 2 v2 air interface standard, which supports cryptographic authentication in RFID systems operating in the UHF range (860 to 960MHz).
"Ucode DNA will transform the Rain RFID tag market, making decisions on security versus read range a thing of the past," said Martin Gruber, general manager at NXP Semiconductors. “NXP is a trusted provider of secure contactless solutions with our technology already being used in many sensitive applications, such as e-passports, contactless banking cards, event ticketing and electronic identification cards. By combining cryptographic security with long read range, the possibilities for new markets, new use cases and new applications are enormous, and it will be exciting to see this develop."
Ucode DNA provides developers with a service for trust provisioning, which generates and inserts the cryptographic keys into the tag IC during the manufacturing process. This not only speeds up the time to deploy a system but also enables developers with no prior experience with cryptography to get a head start on new applications. As well as offering cryptographic protection, it also provides a user memory up to 3kbit with Block Permalock functionality, up to 448bit EPC (electronic product code) and -19dBm read sensitivity.
NXP presented Ucode DNA at RFID Journal Live earlier this month in San Diego, California.