Cypress MicroSystems Introduces Magnetic Card Reader Reference Design

3/17/2003 - Cypress MicroSystems Inc., a subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE: CY), announced a reference design that uses a portion of the PSoC mixed-signal array to implement a two-channel magnetic card reader. This reference design will streamline the development of applications that include magnetic card reader capabilities, such as security systems, credit card verification machines and point-of-sale terminals.

Electronics engineers can now leverage the flexible PSoC architecture and pre-developed magnetic card sub-system to cut development time and reduce the bill-of-materials cost with the integration of the analog front end and associated A/Ds while leaving plenty of processing power and other PSoC resources for further system integration.

PSoC products are based upon a configurable mixed signal array with on-board controller, offering significant advantages for applications that include a magnetic card reader. Using a PSoC device, designers can reconfigure blocks of analog and digital logic to perform multiple functions for greater than 100% utilization of available resources. Therefore, a single PSoC device can collect data from a card’s magnetic stripe, then dynamically reconfigure itself to process the data, and switch back to the data collection configuration. This dynamic reconfiguration eliminates the need for dedicated chips to perform each operation.

The PSoC array reduces component count by providing sufficient analog and digital resources to convert the small magnetic signals from the magnetic heads into data that can be used in other parts of the application. In contrast, traditional microcontroller-based solutions require additional chips and passive components to read the data from a magnetic card stripe. This reduction in component count can dramatically increase the profitability of these cost-sensitive applications.

“Magnetic card readers are now a ubiquitous form of information exchange in thousands of everyday applications that range from retail credit card terminals to ATMs to access control systems,” said Nathan John, director of strategic marketing for Cypress MicroSystems. “The flexibility and power of the PSoC architecture allow embedded designers to include a two-channel magnetic card reader into their applications for virtually no cost, while the new reference design provides this subsystem in a complete and tested form to simplify the development process.”

“Think of the number of places and the number of times each day that you use a magnetic card, and you can understand the level of impact this technological breakthrough will have.”

Pricing and Availability
Cypress MicroSystems’ magnetic card reader design software is now available for free download at The company also offers a magnetic card reader design kit (CY3220MAGCRD-RD), which includes a reference board and documentation for $199 (US).

The first family of PSoC mixed signal arrays (CY8C25x/26x) is currently available for 1,000-unit pricing ranging from $2.80 - $5.50. A software integrated development environment toolset, called PSoC Designer, supports development of all devices in the PSoC family. . Customers may also purchase the Basic Development Kit, including a full speed emulator (PSoC ICE-4000), for $248.

About Cypress MicroSystems
Headquartered in Bothell, Wash., Cypress MicroSystems develops and markets Programmable System on Chip (PSoC) devices – high-performance, field-programmable ICs for high-volume embedded control functions in consumer, industrial, office automation, telecom and automotive applications. Established as a subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE: CY) in the fourth quarter of 1999, Cypress MicroSystems’ stockholders are its employees and Cypress Semiconductor. The close association with Cypress Semiconductor allows access to their process and design technology, and field sales and applications forces. More information about Cypress MicroSystems and its products is accessible online at

About Cypress
Cypress Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE: CY) is Connecting From Last Mile to First Mile™ with high-performance solutions for personal, network access, enterprise, metro switch, and core communications-system applications. Cypress Connects™ using wireless, wireline, digital, and optical transmission standards, including Bluetooth, USB, Fibre Channel, SONET/SDH, Gigabit Ethernet, and DWDM. Leveraging its process and system-level expertise, Cypress makes industry-leading physical layer devices, framers, and network search engines, along with a broad portfolio of high-bandwidth memories, timing technology solutions, and programmable microcontrollers. More information about Cypress is accessible online at

Cypress and the Cypress logo are registered trademarks of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation. “Connectivity From Last Mile to First Mile” and “Cypress Connects” are trademarks of Cypress. “Programmable System on Chip” and PSoC are trademarks of Cypress MicroSystems.

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