The beginning of a new era in NFC technology

7th January 2016
Nat Bowers

With the PN5180, NXP Semiconductors, co-inventor of NFC, has announced the beginning of a new era in the evolution of NFC to bring intuitive proximity technology everywhere. PN5180 is an advanced, multi-protocol (ISO/IEC 15693, Felica, MIFARE and ISO/IEC 14443A/B) NFC frontend that delivers more efficient, robust and reliable operation, even in harsh environments.

Building on the success of the PN512, the flagship PN5180 delivers four times more output power and is designed to enable state-of-the-art readers for contactless payment without the need of an additional booster.

Pradip Mistry, Vice President, Research and Development, Cubic Transportation Systems, commented: “NFC moves increasingly into new and more demanding applications, now transportation terminals need to support EMV payment schemes and have to interact with new payment or transit form factors like NFC-enabled phones, wearables and even rings. The requirements for performance, reliability and interoperability therefore expand. NXP succeeds to bring NFC to the next level in technology with the PN5180 and its new features like Dynamic Power Control and Adaptive Wave Shaping which enables us to deliver an unmatched user experience to our end customers.”

Dynamic Power Control (DPC)

DPC increases communication stability and reliability. It enables up to 30% increase of the effective transmitter current at the same maximum specification. It maximises RF system performance, optimises effective power output and minimises overall energy consumption by automatically compensating for detuning effects generated by nearby smartcards, NFC-enabled smart phones or metal objects. While enabling communication at long distance, the automated calibration avoids a possible damage in cards and phones caused by overpowering in zero distance.

Simple certification

The combined features of DPC, strong RF power and hardware-based EMD error handing eases certification. Being pre-certified for contactless EMVCo L1 and NFC Forum, PN5180 is ideal for designs that target payment applications. Additionally, the TFBGA package with added security features simplified PCI terminals.

Ease the design process

The PN5180 is supported by advanced design-in software tools. The PC-based 'NFC Cockpit' software environment is an intuitive graphical user interface that supports software-independent tuning of the antenna’s register settings, so hardware designers can optimise antenna parameters while software designers work on integration of the embedded system in parallel. PN5180 also comes with a completely overhauled NFC Reader Library which is easily portable to various controller cores. The library is pre-certified for EMVCo L1 and NFC Forum and complies with all applicable ISO/IEC standards.

Due to its advanced features, PN5180 was selected for the latest TWR-POS-K81, the latest PoS reference design which is the first point solution from the recently merged companies NXP and Freescale. “PN5180 is a crucial element of NXP’s vision to bring NFC everywhere since it significantly eases the certification process - often the biggest challenge in NFC designs. Designers will spend less effort and time on antenna tuning, parameters settings and software adjustments,” said Rafael Sotomayor, Senior Vice President, secure mobile transactions business line, NXP. “During the next months, NXP will release new products in all NFC categories, NFC frontend, controller and connected tags solutions, all with new features to improve connectivity and ease the design-in process.”

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