The Advantages of FRAM-Based Smart ICs for Next Generation Government Electronic Ids

Electronic versions of passports and other government-issued identification documents use an Integrated Circuit (IC) or chip to establish a digital link between the holder and personal biometric information, such as a digitized photo, fingerprint or iris image. Designed to enhance border, physical and IT security, electronic chips ensure that the person holding a passport or government document is the one to whom it was legitimately issued.

The next generation ICs will employ an advanced embedded memory technology, called FRAM (Ferroelectric Random Access Memory), which considerably improves the speed and reliability of future smart, secure e-passports and government ID documents. More than 50 countries have electronic passport (e-passport) programs, and many countries are also putting in place more secure forms of electronic citizen, visitor and government employee identification. As the volume of document issuance increases and new security threats occur, there is an increased need for industry-standard, next-generation contactless smart IC solutions that securely store, process and communicate data. These new smart ICs will have increased writing speeds to produce and process documents faster and more efficiently, as well as enhanced memory for future security requirements.

When FRAM is manufactured at the 130 nanometer semiconductor process node, and embedded in a smart IC, it surpasses the limitations of current Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM) and other memory technologies used in government ID applications. The imminent introduction of this innovative memory technology for smart ICs signals a shift in performance in smart card applications deployed in government electronic ID documents.

This paper details the advantages of embedded FRAM memory for smart ICs in contrast to the traditional memory technologies used in many e-passport and government ID programs today.

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