Today is Samstag, 1st November 2014

NXP NFC Chips

To have a sound understanding on what the NFC chips exactly do, an overview of the components is given . Besides the NXP platform there are also offers from other semiconductor companies like InsideSecure that is also offering an open source implementation of their NFC stack.

Nexus S & PN65
The Nexus S ships with a PN65 which contains different hardware and software components, such as \cite{pn65}:

  • A PN512 NFC transmission module for contactless communication at 13,56 Mhz.
  • A micro controller (80C51 core with 32 kbyte of ROM and 1 kbyte of RAM) running the firmware for the PN512 transmission module. The combination of the micro controller and the PN512 is also called PN531.
  • An additional interface and software stack to use a SIM card as the secure element. Therefore the chip needs to implement the so called SWP.
  • A secure smartcard chip. In this case a P5CN072 Secure Dual Interface PKI Smart Card Controller — smartMX — which can be used as the embedded secure element. This secure element is running a Java Card OS.

The PN65 chip used in this phone supports both, an embedded secure element as well as the SIM Card as the secure element. The software running on the host thus is able to send commands to the NFC chip through the host controller interface in order to user either the embedded one or the SIM card to emulate a virtual smartcard.

Form an integration point of view it does not make any difference if the handset manufacture uses the PN544 or the PN65 as both chips have the same interfaces and use the same PIN. The only difference is the SmartMX with is included in the PN65 which can not be contact from outside the chip.

PN512 Datasheet
PN531 Short Specification
PN532 User Manual
PN544 Product Leaflet
SmartMX Specification (embedded in the PN65)

At the mobile world congress 2012 NXP announced a new version of it’s PN-Series Chip: the PN547. The PN547 is has a smaller size, is more energy efficient and has a quicker processing unit. From an integration point of view, the good thing is the the interfaces (HCI, SWP) have not changed and therefore the chip can be integrated soomthly into existing platforms.

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