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New NFC Controller Interface Specification Makes It Easier to Deliver a Broad Range of NFC Devices and Solutions

The NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association that advances the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, has published the NFC Controller Interface (NCI) specification, which is available to the public for download at no charge. NCI is a major new specification, created from the ground up, that defines a standard interface within an NFC device between an NFC controller and the device's main application processor.

The availability of the NCI specification is significant because it makes it easier for device manufacturers to integrate chipsets from different chip manufacturers, and it defines a common level of functionality and interoperability among the components within an NFC-enabled device. Before the development of the NCI specification, device manufacturers had to create their own device-specific interface controllers to manage interactions between the device's CPU and the NFC chip. With the availability of the NCI, manufacturers will have access to a standard interface they can use for whatever kind of NFC-enabled device they build – including mobile phones, PCs, tablets, printers, consumer electronics, and appliances. This will enable manufacturers to bring new NFC-enabled devices to market faster.

"With the publication of the NCI specification, device manufacturers will be able to integrate NFC controllers into their products quickly and simply," said Koichi Tagawa, NFC Forum Chairman. "This will ease chip sourcing and shorten time to market for new NFC-enabled devices of all kinds. I would like to recognize all of the NFC Forum Technical Committee members for their concerted effort to deliver this important specification."

The NCI specification allows the control and management of the RF communication functionality offered by a device's NFC controller. This NFC controller functionality is implemented according to the corresponding NFC Forum specifications. The NCI makes it easier to use NFC controllers from different sources, and it also makes it easier to use NFC controllers with different application processors and different NFC software stacks.

The NCI provides users a logical interface that can be used with different physical transports, such as UART, SPI, and I2C. It also offers a number of partitions that allow an implementer to include different sets of functionality in an NFC Controller. In Listen mode, the NCI supports routing traffic to different secure elements in the device, including those connected using different interfaces -- for example, ETSI-HCI or ISO/IEC 7816.

Previously a candidate specification, the NCI specification is the latest of the Forum's 21 published technical documents, which include Certification and Application Documents as well as Technical Specifications. NCI was adopted after a validation period and subsequent votes by the NFC Forum membership and Board. Access to all available technical documents is found on the Forum's website.

About Near Field Communication Technology

NFC technology makes life easier and more convenient for consumers around the world by making it simpler to make transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a touch.

A standards-based connectivity technology, NFC harmonizes today's diverse contactless technologies, enabling current and future solutions in areas such as access control, consumer electronics, healthcare, information collection and exchange, loyalty and coupons, payments, and transport.

NFC technology is supported by the world's leading communication device manufacturers, semiconductor producers, network operators, IT and services companies, and financial services organizations. NFC is compatible with hundreds of millions of contactless cards and readers already deployed worldwide.

About the NFC Forum

The NFC Forum ( was launched as a non-profit industry association in 2004 by leading mobile communications, semiconductor, and consumer electronics companies. The Forum's mission is to advance the use of Near Field Communication technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and services, and educating the market about NFC technology. The Forum's 170+ global member companies currently are developing specifications for a modular NFC device architecture, and protocols for interoperable data exchange and device-independent service delivery, device discovery, and device capability.

The NFC Forum's Sponsor members, which hold seats on the Board of Directors, include leading players in key industries around the world. The Sponsor members are: Barclaycard, Broadcom Corporation, INSIDE Secure, Intel, MasterCard Worldwide, NEC, Nokia, NXP Semiconductors, Renesas Electronics Corporation, Samsung, Sony Corporation, STMicroelectronics, and Visa Inc.

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