The contact-less, or wireless, microcontroller technology features fast read and write times, as well as increased memory capacity and processing performance to accommodate future data storage requirements for biometrics and other capabilities. "We have combined an evolutionary set of technologies in our portfolio for a fast, scalable smart ID specifically to address the need for efficient issuance and stronger contact-less performance in the government ID market," Julie England, a VP of Texas Instruments, said in a statement.
TI's new platform employs an embedded memory technology called FeRAM, or ferroelectric random access memory. The advanced technology stems from a joint development and licensing agreement with Ramtron International, a supplier of nonvolatile FeRAM.
FeRAM offers several advantages over memory technologies used in current electronic IDs, including electrically erasable programmable read-only memory, and flash. The major benefits include higher transaction speed, lower power consumption, and enhanced write data reliability, TI said.
The market for contact-less E-passport transponders, which transmit and receive data, is set to grow to nearly $190 million by 2012, TI said, quoting ABI Research. The total market for contact-less E-ID documents is expected to reach nearly $1 billion by 2012.
The United States and other countries are looking for significantly faster write speeds on ID cards to create and process documents more quickly. The U.S. Department of State expects the number of E-passports to grow rapidly, reaching 17 million by the end of this year from 12.1 million last year, TI said.
TI has posted a white paper on FRAM technology on its Web site.