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Brazil debuts homegrown RFID IC

Posted: 14 Dec 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Brazil IC? RFID? Wi-Fi?

Brazil ASSP vendor Ceitec S.A. has developed a RFID chip, claimed to be the first IC entirely designed in the country. The company plans to manufacture the chip at its fab in Porto Alegre, in Southern Brazil.

The initial application of the Chip de Boi RFID device is for cattle identification in Brazil's agribusiness market, Ceitec said. The Brazilian state of Minas Gerais recently launched the first field trials of the device, the final step before production, the company said.

"Once production of these designs begins at our manufacturing facility, these chips will reduce the county's dependence on semiconductor imports and establish opportunities for the country's top engineers," said Eduard Weichselbaumer, Ceitec CEO, in a statement.

Brazil has for several years been working toward the establishment of a domestic IC industry, but has met with some setbacks. Critics have charged that the country has outdated technology, an unclear business model and a domestic market too small to create a competitive chip industry. Questions about recruiting and retaining engineers have also been raised.

But over the summer, Ceitec opened an IC design center in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, billed by the company as Latin America's first IC design center (though multinational companies such as Freescale Semiconductor Inc. previously had design centers in Brazil).

Ceitec, established in 2008, has been funded with $220 million from the Brazil government. A spokesperson for the firm said it recently spun out from government control.

Cattle tracking
Chip de Boi RFID devices enable electronic tracking and collection of data on a cattle herd, eliminating human error. The chip monitors cattle from birth through slaughter, including vaccinations and health records, the company said.

Though other RFID devices for tracking cattle exist, ranchers seeking to track their animals previously had two options, according to Ceitec, an optical earring with numbers, or bar codes. Both systems are more difficult and less reliable than RFID tags, the company said.

"Our chip can be read with the cattle moving, and the information goes directly to the farm computer using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or cable," Weichselbaumer said.

In the Minas Gerais trials, Chip de Boi RFID devices were applied to 500 cattle on an experimental farm run by a state agency, Ceitec said. The company said it plans to test 10,000 RFID products on other farms in various regions of Brazil.

Efforts are also underway to expand the technology into other areas of livestock tracking and to other industries that require tracking, Ceitec said.

The RFID tags will eventually be sold in global markets. The company claims that a high degree of reliability means meat traced electronically with the De Boi chip has a higher value in the market and is better able to meet strict health regulations such as those in the European Union.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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