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Qualcomm to launch its first NFC chip in early 2013


Qualcomm will launch a NFC chipset that is ready for sampling by customers in the first quarter of 2013, followed by commercial designs with leading handset vendors expected in the third quarter of next year.

However, Qualcomm did not reveal any handset vendors who had signed up to use its new NFC chip, which is called the QCA1990. The company says the new chip will enable contactless data exchange (P2P exchange of data by two NFC-enabled devices), as well as mobile payment services.

Significantly, Qualcomm says its chip offers a range of secure element options, both embedded and SIM-based. Embedded NFC solutions are favoured by handset vendors wanting to offer payment services, while mobile operators prefer the SIM-based approach. Qualcomm is clearly interested in pursuing both groups.

Its entry to the NFC market, which has been mooted for some time, will add further pressure to market leader NXP, which recently lost out to rival Broadcom as the supplier of chips to Google’s most recent devices.

Qualcomm’s support “is paving the way for rapid adoption of products that incorporate NFC technology”, says David Favreau, vice president of product management with Qualcomm Atheros.

Among the benefits of its new chips, Qualcomm is talking up its power consumption. It claims the QCA1990 has an overall footprint that is 50 percent smaller than current NFC chipsets on the market.

The vendor also says the chip will support antenna form factors that are eight times as smaller than rivals currently available.

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