Radical new NFC reader IC’s industry-best RF performance solves certification problems in contactless payment terminals and mobile PoS equipment

Panthronics AG, a fabless semiconductor company specialising in high performance wireless technology, today announced the launch of the PTX100R, an NFC reader IC which implements a radical new RF architecture to produce valuable improvements in output power and sensitivity while reducing the total area occupied by the system, including its antenna.

Example of digital wallet payment system in cafe: closeup of male customer swiping his smartphone over terminal paying with his credit card via phone

The new solution is an ideal answer to the problems inherent in the use of today’s NFC readers in challenging environments: point-of-sale terminals, in which the noisy display couples interference into the NFC antenna mounted close to it; and mobile point-of-sale (PoS) equipment, in which space for the antenna is restricted and the metal enclosure hampers the propagation of RF signals.

Panthronics’ new PTX100R implements its patented DiRAC technology which enables the NFC reader to drive output power of up to 3W directly to the antenna – more than double the output power capability of any other NFC architecture – while achieving sensitivity of -80dB, more than twice as sensitive as competitors.

This means that PoS terminal and mobile PoS manufacturers can achieve EMVCo 3.0 compliance (for contactless payments) with an antenna of just 900mm2, some four to five times smaller than that required when using competitors’ readers.

In addition, architectural innovations such as ultra-precise wave shaping, on-chip dynamic power control and an onboard EMVCo hardware accelerator speed proximity coupling device (PCD) processing time, simplify system integration and provide greater margins for time-critical functions.

As a result, PoS equipment makers benefit from quicker certification and faster time to market when designing for constrained space and noisy environments.

RF innovation disrupts incumbents

While the NFC market has been growing at breakneck speed, driven by consumer adoption of contactless payments and ticketing, incumbent manufacturers have been constrained by products based on legacy technology which is no longer fit for purpose.

Patented innovations made by Panthronics and implemented in the PTX100R are set to challenge the incumbents’ market leadership because they deliver superior performance alongside system-level improvements in a smaller footprint. These innovations include:

  • The sine wave output driver eliminates the need for EMI filters while delivering up to 3W of output power. In addition, ultra-precise wave shaping and true on-chip dynamic power control exceeds the requirements of the new EMVCo 3.0 standard.
  • DiRAC technology for increased dynamic range, direct sensing of antenna signals, and reduced component count and area gives more margin in challenging designs
  • Split-stack protocol software architecture. Time-critical operations run on the PTX100R while the NFC stack runs on the host processor to give more flexibility and accelerate prototyping while permitting the use of a less powerful host microcontroller.

Mark Dickson, Chief Marketing Officer of Panthronics, said: ‘The NFC market is ripe for disruption – designers of PoS and mobile PoS equipment have been frustrated for a long time by the limitations of legacy NFC architectures. The PTX100R, developed from the ground up by the very experienced team at Panthronics, is already enabling our customers to exceed their requirements in a challenging and dynamic market.

‘The PTX100R marks a breakthrough in NFC system performance, power and size, which is why we are so excited to be bringing it to market now.’

The PTX100R is fully compliant with the specifications of the latest EMVCo 3.0 standard for contactless payments. It is supplied with an application-ready EMVCo 3.0 L1 interface. The Panthronics product includes a set of facilities which makes the integration of a third-party EMV L2 stack fast and easy. It also provides rich debugging capabilities allowing for rapid prototyping.

The PTX100R is in mass production now.

Panthronics will be demonstrating the PTX100R at its stand J05 at the Trustech exhibition (Cannes, France, 26-28 November).

For a datasheet, samples or more technical information about the PTX100R NFC reader IC, go to panthronics.com.

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