Favite says tags made with the IC will be available in early 2009, and that its RFID interrogator module supports the chip's large memory size.
Courtesy of RFID Journal, By Dave Friedlos
Sept. 12, 2008—Taiwanese startup company Favite RFID has unveiled a new UHF EPC Gen 2 inlay that it claims boasts the largest memory size and most competitive price available in the market.
The company is currently testing the FAVTAG UHF 1 RFID chip—which will provide its inlay with up to 128 kilobits of memory—in its laboratory, and intends to begin production early next year. This is part of Favite's expansion into the RFID market, which includes the establishment of a mass-production line for RFID antennas, inlays and tags, as well as the development of a low-cost ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) reader, a battery-free RFID remote control unit for TVs and DVD players, and anti-counterfeiting products—all to be released over the next two years.
According to Favite VP Mark Tseng, applications requiring significant memory space, such as temperature and moisture sensors, will benefit from the new chip, and from inlays made with it. The company will market the chip and inlays to businesses that transport perishable products, pharmaceuticals, biological samples (such as blood, tissue and plasma) and fresh produce.
"Another potential application is the airline baggage tag, which needs at least 1 kilobit of memory to store customer and airline information," Tseng says, explaining that companies developing airport baggage-handling applications have requested RFID inlays that support 1 kilobit of memory. "In addition, IATA [the International Air Transport Association] has requested that tags be read with a conveyor speed of 3.6 meters [11.8 feet] per second during baggage transportation, and the FAVTAG UHF 1 is the first tag that meets these requirements."
The FAVTAG UHF 1 chip provides the traditional benefits for EPC Gen 2 tags, including increased security (such as the prevention of data alteration), cross-vendor interoperability, high reliability of read rates, faster read and write rates, and reduced RF interference—but with improved memory and lower cost.
In addition to offering a 128-kilobit chip and inlay, Favite sells two inlays made with NXP Semiconductors' Ucode G2XM chip, which has 512 bits of user memory. Those inlays, the FT-G1201 and FT-G1202, will be targeted to current EPC Gen 2 applications, Tseng says, such as supply chain management, logistics, asset inventory and item-level tagging.
"The large-memory-size tag price is four times that of the small-memory-size tag," Tseng notes, "but it offers 256 times the memory capacity." Each G2XM RFID chip costs 6.5 to 8.5 cents, while the FT-G1201 and FT-G1202 inlays cost 10.5 to 12.5 cents apiece. Pricing for the large-memory-size chip has yet to be finalized, he says, but will be 26 to 50 cents; the company expects to charge 30 to 54 cents for an inlay made with the chip.
Favite is currently producing up to 600 million tag antennas annually, as well as 600 million unconverted inlays and 300 million tags. To enable such production levels, Favite has established a mass-production line for RFID tag antennas, inlays and tags that it hopes will bring down manufacturing costs. The company installed facilities for screen printing, plating, flip-chip bonding and high-speed tag conversion.
"Our strength is that we have developed a patented reel-to-reel copper-plated production process for RFID antennas," Tseng explains. "The production cost of the copper-plated antenna is 50 percent lower than a copper-etched antenna with the same performance. We believe that we can contribute a lot to cutting down the manufacturing cost, and that it is possible to achieve the 5-cent tag-price target if the price of the RFID chip is low enough."
Favite, Tseng says, has already developed a number of tag antennas for various applications, such as a far-field antenna with a read range of 7 to 10 meters (23 to 33 feet), and a mid-range antenna with a read range of 2 to 4 meters (6.6 to 13 feet).
For the production of RFID inlays, Favite dispenses anisotropic conductive paste (ACP) on the bonding area of the antenna, then employs a flip-chip process to attach that antenna to the RFID chip and heat-cure the ACP for up to 10 seconds. It has also installed Bielomatik tag-converting equipment to turn RFID inlays into RFID labels, paper-based ISO cards, event tickets and airline baggage tags.
The main obstacle to take-up of RFID, Tseng says, has been the high tag cost, as users could not afford the high investment costs or achieve a strong return on investment. However, he notes, Favite's mass-production line will be able to meet the demand for low-cost tags. Lower cost is also the primary benefit of Favite's new UHF RFID reader module, the FS-GM201, designed to support all modes and data rates of EPC Gen 2 tags.
Most existing interrogators feature hundreds of discrete components that result in a high cost, Tseng says. The high cost of UHF RFID readers is one of the main reasons UHF tags have not been as widely adopted as high-frequency (HF) tags, despite being cheaper. But Favite's UHF RFID reader utilizes the R1000 chipset from Impinj (see Impinj Acquires Intel's UHF RFID Reader Chip Operation). The R1000 has integrated most of the components onto a single 8-millimeter by 8-millimeter (0.3-inch by 0.3-inch) chip to increase read range while consuming very low power.
"The R1000 chipset has reduced the reader design complexity significantly," Tseng says, "and will ultimately bring the cost of all readers based on the R1000 chipset down to a reasonable price. It will enable manufacturers to develop smaller readers for less than $500."
Favite plans to market the interrogator to small RFID system integrators, enabling them to develop the readers at a competitive price. In addition, the company also intends to develop fixed and handheld readers utilizing the R1000 chipset. All three models, Tseng says, will be able to encode and read all 128 kilobits of memory in any inlay manufactured with the FAVTAG UHF 1 chip.
What's more, Favite plans to develop a battery-free RFID remote control to replace traditional infrared models for consumer electronics such as TVs and DVD players, as well as for anti-counterfeiting products. Both are expected to be developed over the next two years.