TDK Launches 73S12xx Family of 8-bit System-on-Chips

11/4/2004 - At the smart card industry trade exhibition, Cartes 2004, TDK Semiconductor Corp., a leader in the design and manufacture of mixed-signal semiconductor ICs for world markets, unveiled its new TDK 73S12xx family of 8-bit system-on-chips dedicated to low-cost smart card readers. Targeted applications include smart card readers embedded into laptops and USB-connected PIN-pad smart card readers. Applications include identification and digital signature for corporate and government deployments, as well as home-banking schemes such as the MasterCard Chip-Authentication-Program.

TDK’s former generation of card controller reader ICs (the 73S11xxF, still the highest-performance smart card reader controller circuits available in this price range as of today) has been developed in conjunction with ActivCard, leveraging their expertise in portable high performance EMV smart card readers. Taking advantage of this experience, the new 72S12xx products will offer cost reduction and enhanced features such as a high-speed 20-MIPS 80C52 core, built-in ISO-7816 interface, optional USB and PIN-pad interfaces, real time clock, and more. The 73S12xx will allow manufacturers of PIN-pads to build, at an attractive cost, USB-connected PIN-pad smart card readers with features such as high-speed card communication, full-speed USB, and PIN encryption. Various flavors will be introduced to cover particular applications such as a small pin-count option to enable PC manufacturers to incorporate a turnkey smart card reader solution into laptops or PC keyboards, and a high pin-count option for single-chip PIN-pad readers.

Jean-Christophe Doucet, Sr. Product Manager at TDK Semiconductor commented, “Vendors of PIN-pad readers currently have to make a choice between performance and production cost. Until now it has been impossible to build a USB-connected PIN-pad reader with a viable selling price for home-banking and digital identification markets, but the 73S12xx products will change all that.”

ActivCard, a global provider of strong authentication and trusted digital identity solutions, has already evaluated the TDK smart card reader controller platform for the latest member of its PIN-pad card reader family, the ActivReaderTM SOLO. According to Mehdi Bermy, Financial Solutions Manager at ActivCard, “We have been using TDK solutions for several years in our products. The upcoming 73S12xx gathers the enhanced features we were looking for, but more importantly, at an attractive cost that will enable us to address our markets.”

An FPGA-based board is available now to start validating the performance and developing the application. Samples of new 73S12xx ICs will be available in mid-2005 and production is scheduled for the end of the year. Existing users of current 73S11xxF products will be able to migrate to the new platform very easily, since the TDK libraries will be compatible.

For further information about TDK 73S12xx, contact TDK Semiconductor’s authorized distributors – Nu Horizons ( and All American ( in the US, and Micropuissance ( in France. Authorized distributors for other countries can be found by visiting the company’s web site at

About TDK Semiconductor Corp.
TDK Semiconductor, part of $6.2 billion TDK Corporation (NYSE: TDK), provides advanced analog and mixed-signal integrated circuit products for consumer, telecom, and industrial applications worldwide. Additional company and product information can be found at

About ActivCard
ActivCard (Nasdaq: ACTI) is a global provider of strong authentication and trusted digital identity solutions for secure remote access, single sign-on and enterprise access cards. ActivCard’s scalable systems and strong authentication solutions are deployed by organizations, from enterprises to governments, around the world. ActivCard provides organizations with industry-specific solutions offering increased security, reduced cost, and user convenience. The modular product design allows customers to add capabilities as required, preserving their investment. Headquartered in Fremont, California, ActivCard has sales and service centers in more than seven countries. For more information, visit

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