Qualcomm introduces smaller, more efficient QCA1990 NFC chip in partnership with Atheros

by Colton Kaiser on
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While NFC may not be catching on as quickly as the mobile industry had hoped, Qualcomm isn’t letting that slow their role. The San Diego-based semiconductor manufacturer announced the redesigned QCA1990 NFC chip today in partnership with subsidiary Atheros.

Offering significantly improved battery life and a 50% size reduction, Qualcomm is touting its chip as the most efficient NFC processor yet. Moreover, the chip is compatible with the company’s latest Snapdragon SoCs, meaning we could see it integrated into handsets as early as Q3 2013. For the full run-down, you can read the company’s official PR after the break.

Qualcomm Atheros Introduces Ultra-Low Power Near Field Communication Chip for Mobile Devices

NFC Solution to Drive Next-Generation Mobile Payments and Wireless Connectivity
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – December 5, 2012 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., introduced a new ultra-low power near field communication (NFC) solution that will enable mobile devices with contactless communications and data exchange, including next-generation mobile payments. The QCA1990 is the industry’s smallest, ultra-low power system-on-chip (SoC) with an overall footprint that is 50 percent smaller than current NFC chips available in the market. When paired with Qualcomm Atheros’ WCN3680 1-stream, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 4.0/FM chip, the QCA1990 will enable seamless user experiences in the mobile, computing and consumer electronics markets.

The QCA1990 offers platform-level integration with the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 and next-generation processors and modems to seamlessly enable NFC on Qualcomm’s OEM partner smartphones and tablets. The QCA1990 software stack complies with the NFC Forum Controller Interface (NCI) and is fully integrated to enable faster time-to-market for customers. Its state-of-the-art radio frequency (RF) performance exceeds requirements established by EMVCo and the NFC Forum. With supported antenna form factors that are eight times smaller than current market offerings, QCA1990 offers significant cost savings for OEMs to integrate NFC at a significantly lower price point.
As consumers continue to rely more on their mobile devices for new and extended applications, battery drain can be a significant issue; the QCA1990 employs extremely low-power polling algorithms to prolong battery life. The QCA1990 also offers a wide range of secure element options, both embedded and SIM-based, while supporting multiple secure elements concurrently, including support for a dual-SIM configuration.

“Qualcomm Atheros believes NFC will be another key element of an enriched experience for smartphone and tablet consumers. As consumers continue to adopt functions like mobile payments and contactless data exchange, Qualcomm intends to be at the forefront of delivering simple, easy-to-use solutions to OEM partners,” said David Favreau, vice president of product management, Qualcomm Atheros. “By enabling client devices, Qualcomm Atheros is paving the way for rapid adoption of products that incorporate NFC technology.”


The QCA1990 is pre-tested to meet the requirements from payment schemes, mobile operators and OEMs globally. The QCA1990 will sample to customers starting in the first quarter of 2013, with commercial designs with leading OEMs expected in the third quarter of 2013. For more information, please visit www.qca.qualcomm.com.

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