Qualcomm Intros the Smallest NFC Chip Yet for 2013

Qualcomm Atheros introduced on Thursday a new ultra-low power near field communication (NFC) system-on-chip (SoC) for mobile devices. Called the QCA1990, the big deal about this chip is that it's currently the industry's smallest ultra-low power SoC, thus its overall footprint is 50-percent smaller than current NFC chips.

"When paired with Qualcomm Atheros' WCN3680 1-stream, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 4.0/FM chip, the QCA1990 will enable seamless user experiences in the mobile, computing and consumer electronics markets," the company said.

The new super-small NFC chip reportedly plays nice with the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chips, offering platform-level integration with the snappy processor line along with the company's next-generation processors and modems. The QCA1990's software stack also complies with the NFC Forum Controller Interface (NCI) and is fully integrated.

"Its state-of-the-art radio frequency (RF) performance exceeds requirements established by EMVCo and the NFC Forum," Qualcomm said. "With supported antenna form factors that are eight times smaller than current market offerings, QCA1990 offers significant cost savings for OEMs to integrate NFC at a significantly lower price point."

Qualcomm said the new QCA1990 NFC chip employs extremely low-power polling algorithms to prolong the device's battery life. It also supports a wide range of embedded and SIM-based secure element options, and simultaneous multiple secure elements like dual-SIM configurations.

"As consumers continue to adopt functions like mobile payments and contactless data exchange, Qualcomm intends to be at the forefront of delivering simple, easy-to-use solutions to OEM partners," said David Favreau, vice president of product management, Qualcomm Atheros. "By enabling client devices, Qualcomm Atheros is paving the way for rapid adoption of products that incorporate NFC technology."

Qualcomm will begin to sample the new NFC chip in 1Q13. Commercial designs from leading OEMs aren't expected to be ready until 3Q13, the company said.

Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback