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Sharp begins shipping IC modules to Australia for e-passports

Posted: 29 Oct 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:contactless ic? sharp? ram? cpu? co-processor?

Responding to a fast-approaching deadline by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security for global deployment of electronically readable visas, Japan's Sharp Corp. has begun volume shipments of its large-capacity contactless IC module to the Australian government, which recently began an e-passport pilot program.

Sharp claims it is the first to publicly announce a design-win from any government, according to a company spokesman. Sharp will supply 10,000 IC modules for Australia's e-passport pilot program.

The contactless IC module, comprising RAM, CPU, co-processor, antenna, and inlay, conforms to e-passport specifications of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the ISO 14443 Type B standard. Sharp's IC card for e-passports will be placed in between the passport pages.

Sharp's e-passport chip differs from the competition in the use of large flash memory and high-speed transmission speed, according to the spokesman.

"There are others who claim similar specifications to ours, but nobody has chips that are commercially available in volume yet," the spokesman added.

The chip incorporates 512KB flash memory, while offering 424kbps transmission speed. The chip's flash memory capacity is large enough to hold optional biometrics data set by ICAO, beyond ICAO-defined standard passport data that includes the facial photograph and optical character information used in the current machine-readable passports, said Sharp. Such optional data includes information on finger- and iris-prints.

High-speed transmission is crucial to preventing congestion at immigration checkpoints, said Sharp. The chip has tested out at twice ICAO's recommended speed, or "less than one second from the moment an immigration officer picks up the e-passport and accesses standard passport data (facial photo and machine-readable information) from the chip," said the spokesman.

Sharp is not unveiling details of its CPU and co-processor for security reasons.

- Junko Yoshida

EE Times

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