Alien Technology Unleashes Second Wave of Gen2 RFID Chips

Alien Technology has announced the availability of its new Alien Gen2 UHF RFID Integrated Circuit (codenamed "Higgs"), a functional drop-in replacement for currently shipping Gen2 chips, but delivering a typical 30% longer read range and over 10 times faster write speeds than currently available Gen2 chips. Based on an innovative new underlying architecture, the EPCglobal-certified Alien Gen2 chip provides not only seamless compatibility and significantly improved performance, but also enables Alien to quickly deliver new tag products with advanced functionality optimized for new and emerging RFID applications.

Manufactured using Alien's patented, high-volume, low-cost FSA process, the Alien Gen2 chip will be the foundation for Alien UHF RFID tags. This includes the Alien Gen2 Squiggle tag, the newly announced additions to Alien's World Tag family, and Alien's newly announced small form factor tags.

Following its EPCglobal certification in June 2006, the Alien Gen2 chip has been the subject of an aggressive interoperability program involving RFID reader, printer and applicator vendors to ensure its compatibility with RFID tags. At the same time, leading RFID label converters have been engaged in an early-sample and validation program to help ensure a seamless switchover. To date, six of the largest label converters have signed multi-year strategic agreements for the purchase of up to 840 million Alien RFID tags, including tags containing the Alien Gen2 RFID chip.

The Alien Gen2 chip demonstrates performance of over 2 db more sensitivity than previously available passive UHF RFID ICs, which translates to an average 30% range advantage depending on the application. With this increased sensitivity comes more reliable tag performance and the ability for tags to work more effectively on different types and sizes of products. It also means that tags can be designed to use smaller, less expensive antennas, to help further reduce their costs and label sizes.

Equally significant, the Alien Gen2 chip supports programming, or write, speeds that are up to ten times faster than currently available Gen2 ICs, which translates to increased throughput for label printers and applicators and on assembly lines. The new IC's memory, including EPC, lock, kill and access codes, can be loaded in a single command cycle, compared to the 10 or more cycles required by currently available ICs. Hence 10 times more tags can be programmed per second, enabling higher speed manufacturing integration and labeling.

Among the innovative features of the Alien Gen2 chip is its flexible, factory-configurable memory architecture, which in the future, will enable Alien to rapidly deliver new low-cost tag products optimized for a range of new applications during the manufacturing of the tag. The basic, or default, configuration contains the standard 96 bit ePC memory and features Kill and Access passwords. Depending on application needs, additional configurations can include extended ePC memory (128 bits), 64 bits of independently lockable user memory, and unique Tag IDs (locked factory-programmable serial numbers) for anti-counterfeiting applications.

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