New generation of high-performance dual-interface chip-card MCUs unveiled

STMicroelectronics has unveiled a new secure dual-interface chip-card microcontroller that combines advanced computing power with a high level of contact-less performance. The new ST31 series is the first chip-card microcontroller to combine ARM’s SecurCore SC000 processor that is able to support contact or contactless operation, and support for MIFARE, MIFARE DESFire and Calypso transport-card standards. This combination gives the device enhanced multi-application versatility. The ST31″s low-power architecture helps improve communication speed and reliability in contactless applications, in which the card circuitry is powered by RF energy from the reader.

“ST ia the first company to announce general availability of products based on the SC000 processor,” said Noel Hurley, VP strategy and marketing, processor division, ARM. “This advanced processor targets high volume smart-card applications, with proven SecurCore security capabilities, low power consumption, reduced silicon footprint, and numerous architectural features that help reduce development costs and speed up time to market.”

Chip cards for banking and multi-applications including payment and transport are being adopted worldwide and over 90% of card-payment terminals in Europe already comply with the EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) standard for chip and PIN cards. The latest contactless standards are looking to enhance convenience for customers, providing shorter transaction times and greater security. Credit card fraud has dropped appreciably after chip cards have been introduced in Europe and countries such as Canada, Australia, Japan and Korea. Banks in China and Hong Kong are working towards complete conversion by 2015.

The ST31 series chips rely on a highly secure architecture targeting EMVCo and Common Criteria EAL5+/EAL6+ security certifications, capable of supporting recognised cryptography algorithms such as DES, AES, RSA and ECC, while also reducing implementation costs by utilising the silicon-efficient SecurCore SC000 processor based on ARM”s advanced v7-M microcontroller architecture. This will accelerate conversion to chip cards in transitioning areas such as China, where cost is a major consideration for card issuers. A single-interface version of the ST31 for contact-only application is also available.


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