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In 2006, NXP left the Royal Philips Electronics fold to become an independent semiconductor company with a fifty-year history of providing engineers and designers with semiconductors and software, headquartered at Eindhoven in The Netherlands. At the end of August 2007, I had a conference call with Dirk Morgenoth, Marketing Director, Market Sector RFID, to understand the NXP RFID value proposition. Morgenoth explained that the re-branding process had been well organised and had been helped by existing customers and SI partners. Philips did not see semiconductors as core business.
NXP employs 37,000 people. There are some 24 R&D centres world-wide in Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, UK, India, China and Switzerland. Manufacturing is carried out in 17 locations with a further 8 test and assembly sites.
NXP develops and produces semiconductors and software for mobile communications, consumer electronics, security applications, contactless payment and connectivity, and in-car entertainment and networking.
The company is split into 5 divisions:
- Mobile & Personal
- Automotive & Identification
- Multimarket Semiconductors
- NXP Software
NXP’s prime focus is in the RFID business on the production of chips to support low frequency (iCode), high frequency and ultra-high frequency (UCode). NXP work an optimum solution approach with their customer. A reference design centre, based in Austria, is used to look at the requirement in research mode. When the design goals have been agreed, NXP research how to deliver the requirement. They also help their customers and system integrators (SIs). NXP work with reader and printer vendors to write collaboratively—Morgenoth added that this only applied to companies who used NXP chips. NXP are currently working on developing UHF and NFC capabilities.
NXP have established markets in the public sector, libraries and livestock. Morgenoth saw supply chain management and digital more dynamic. Near Field Communication (NFC), a combination of contactless identification and networking technologies, is central to NXP’s vision of a connected world where people can bank, shop, communicate, or connect to information, entertainment or services, safely and securely, in the blink of an eye.
Morgenoth saw that standards for RFID were still growing. He cited the new Item Level standards from EPCglobal as an example. He saw that the future lay in adding features like sensors for temperature or movement to the tags. From a technical viewpoint there is a need to improve data storage and data access capabilities. The big challenge is driving the cost of tags down. NXP are looking at their Reference Design approach as a way of tackling this. There is an increasing need for the IT infrastructure of organisations to be able to use the data collected by RFID, therefore, Morgenoth sees the need for ISV companies to step up to the mark; particularly in the extended supply chain where the full business process crosses many organisational boundaries and will be implemented on multiple ERP systems. This is an area where I see the need for combining SOA, BPM, Integration and RFID with BAM and BI to achieve the potential business benefits from gaining visibility across the whole supply chain.
Morgenoth saw that the challenge for NXP and its rival was that the bar was constantly being raised and using polymer based, rather than silicon-based ,technology at present is not able to handle the performance growth required. Morgenoth believes that there are enough ways to achieve lower cost using silicon.