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Infineon HQ, Munich

Near Field Communication (NFC) connectivity technology transforms smart phones and other mobile devices into wallets, tickets and keys. Infineon Technologies AG is backing this development and is launching its latest security microcontroller for NFC applications: the embedded Secure Element. 

As an integral part of the mobile phone electronics, the embedded Secure Element provides security for NFC applications such as mobile payment, ticketing and access control. The embedded Secure Element is compatible with all common mobile phone operating systems. Infineon’s NFC security microcontrollers are currently already used in most NFC-enabled smart phones.

IMS Research anticipates that the global number of NFC-enabled smart phones and other mobile devices will be about 40 million in 2011 and projects that this figure will grow to 120 million units in 2012. Every tenth new mobile device will then have NFC functionality. Infineon will further expand its leading position in security microcontrollers for NFC-enabled smart phones by the end of 2011, when the company expects to ship already double digit million volumes of NFC security microcontrollers per quarter.

”Trust in reliable mobile payment is a must-have to bring NFC from today’s niche into the mass market. Among the key elements that have contributed to Infineon’s smart card IC leadership has been its high level of commitment to security innovation. Its security expertise makes Infineon well-positioned to take a lead role in the NFC market,” said Alex Green, Senior Research Director at IMS Research.

”NFC changes the way we use mobile phones. Infineon establishes the technical basis for secure mobile payment,” said Dr. Helmut Gassel, President of the Chip Card & Security Division at Infineon Technologies AG. “With our security microcontrollers, mobile phones offer NFC functionality that is secure, convenient and efficient. 2011 will see most NFC-enabled mobile devices using Infineon’s NFC chips.”

As a long-standing member of the NFC Forum, Infineon has played a part in shaping NFC. The company provides several chips supporting the security functions for contactless NFC connectivity technology in mobile devices: via an NFC security microcontroller for the SIM card, via the embedded Secure Element hardwired to the mobile phone electronics, and via a Secure Element which can be incorporated in a microSD card. This makes Infineon the only semiconductor manufacturer in the world to offer such flexibility in implementing NFC functionality.

Infineon’s NFC products are all available and are certified to the Common Criteria EAL 5 (high) international standard, the world’s strictest security requirements for security microcontrollers. They have received approval according to EMVCo (Europay International, Mastercard, Visa) and are suitable for all payment applications offered by mobile devices over NFC.

The new embedded Secure Element, the SLE 97144SE, is part of the electronics in present-day smart phones. This key element ensures compliance of NFC-enabled smart phones with the security requirements of payment and ticketing applications. Its interface is designed specifically for connection to the NFC modem and allows very high data transfer, even beyond the 848 kilobits/second specified according to ISO14443. NFC-enabled devices with Infineon’s embedded Secure Element can be used worldwide because it supports all standardized ISO14443 protocols for contactless data transfer and is therefore interoperable with all existing infrastructures for mobile payment and ticketing.

Since mobile devices are used for two to three years on average and in many parts of the world SIM cards have become short-lived disposable items, a higher degree of security is expected of the embedded Secure Element than of the NFC chip for SIM card or microSD card. That is why Infineon’s multi-award-winning “Integrity Guard” security technology – developed specifically for payment applications, among others – is used in the embedded Secure Element. As a result, the data is stored in encrypted form and remains encrypted for processing along the entire data path (CPUs, memories, caches and buses). The embedded Secure Element security microcontroller has two central processing units (CPU) and a sophisticated error detection system.

For security of NFC applications via the SIM cards, Infineon‘s SLE 88CNFX6600PM uses an ETSI-compliant Single Wire Protocol (SWP) interface to connect the SIM card to the mobile device’s NFC modem. The SLE 88CNFX6600PM uses Infineon-developed SOLID FLASH™ technology that unites memory flash technology with special security features. The security microcontroller offers secure non-volatile memory and combines the flexibility and convenience of flash-like memory with the advantage of the EEPROM, which features granularity, very fast programming times and at least 500,000 program cycles. It also provides hardware firewalls to secure the coexistence of multiple applications, such as banking and Java applications from different service providers, that can be downloaded to a mobile device. The SLE 88CNFX6600PM is available and was used, for example, in the big NFC field trial in Nice, France.

Infineon offers various families of security microcontrollers also using SOLID FLASH technology that are suited for use in multimedia SD cards. In addition, Infineon supplies a wide range of NFC tags for smart poster applications. These tags can store URL addresses or vouchers that can be read and retrieved by mobile phone, for example.

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