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Germany taps NXP chip for national ID card

Posted: 23 Aug 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:contactless ID card  SmartMX chip  microcontroller chip 

German Federal Ministry of the Interior has tapped NXP Semiconductors NV's SmartMX secure contactless microcontroller chip in the next issue of its contactless national identity card � the Neuer Personalausweis. An inlay containing a dedicated SmartMX IC in thin packaging will be included in the cards, which will replace the current paper-based identification according to NXP.

The SmartMX chip platform is very broad and usually comprises an 80C51 microcontroller plus dedicated engines for Java and cryptoprocessing. It also includes measures against reverse engineering and attacks with light and lasers, as well as a dedicated hardware firewall to protect specific sections on the chip. The SmartMX chips can be delivered in a 250-micron thin chip package.

NXP said its ICs are used by more than 75 countries for electronic passports and that national ID cards are the next major application for such chips.

Equipped with a new communication protocol, the contactless ID card will enable secure e-Government and e-Commerce services while protecting against identity theft and identity tracking. Only trustworthy service providers will be able to access ID card data once authorized by the citizen, ensuring privacy, as well as authenticity of data for service providers. More than 150 companies are working to prepare for the roll-out of the new ID card, and participating in trials to offer services such as online banking, registration for online shopping, airline passenger check-in, online tax declaration and car registration. The contactless German ID card can also be used as a travel document within the European Union � and to some other countries such as Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt � instead of a passport.

"Being chosen by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior to supply the security chips for the new German electronic ID is a major achievement for NXP, and a huge recognition of the security and performance of our SmartMX solution," said Ruediger Stroh, executive VP and general manager of identification at NXP, in a statement.

NXP did not say whether the design win is exclusive or how much it expected the business to be worth. However, more than 6 crore cards are expected to be rolled out over the next ten years with distribution due to start in November 2010.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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