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new Broadcom NFC chip, the consequences

First android phone with Broadcom NFC chip

broadcom nfc controller chips in google nexus 4 mobile phones
The Google Nexus 4 with Android 4.2 JB O.S., has a Broadcom nfc chip inside. Google has chosen to use Broadcom’s BCM20793 nfc controller chip in the Nexus 4 made by LG.
To date, practically all nfc enabled android phones used NXP’s nfc chips. All BlackBerrys and the Nokia Lumia 610 have Inside Secure nfc chips .
Broadcom is the third supplier of NFC controller chips for mobile phones. + see update below +

Broadcom announced this chip in September 2011 and launched it exactly a year later in September 2012.
It seems the Nexus 4 is the first handset with Broadcom’s chip, but I’m not 100% sure.
Broadcom also developed an open NFC Controller Interface stack. It supports all interfaces and replaces existing proprietary solutions, it’s compatible with NFC Forum’s new specifications. All mobile phone manufacturers can use it free.
- With this brand-independent and open stack, manufacturers now can easy choose/change the nfc chip supplier.

  • Best Buy Co, Inc.

Some facts that you might want to know, “good and bad”

Some technology advantages (source Broadcom):
- The smallest solution, 40% less space on a motherboard.
- Most power efficient NFC solution on the market, built on a 40nm process. At least 90% energy saving.
- The chip can draw energy from the environment so it can support transactions even without battery power.
- Simultaneous support of multiple Secure Elements (both SIM and non-SIM) within a single device.
- Multiple SWP interfaces allow for standards-based SIM and embedded secure element integration.
- Easily pairs with Broadcom’s InConcert® BCM4330 Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and FM combo chip for comprehensive connectivity solution. (Some day, Broadcom can make it work, everything on one chip?)
update dec.’12; Two new chips with nfc controller announced. WiFi, Bluetooth, FM and nfc controller on one Combo chip and a second single card solution, Q1 2013 in production.

- The Google Nexus 4 has an embedded Secure Element. My conclusion; the Broadcom’s BCM20793 nfc controller chip has an embedded SE. Maybe not all nfc chips from the BCM2079x family have this embedded SE.
Update; Broadcom chips don’t have an embedded Secure Element.
In the Google Nexus 4, Broadcom has the ST33 embedded Secure Element from STMicroelectronics connected to the NFC controller chip. Broadcom itself has no “smart card technology” to produce Secure Elements. STMicroelectronics also supplies NFC controller chips. Thus.. we can also expect mobile phones with these chips. Source; nfcTimes.com

- Before, all android phones could read and write all types of nfc tags. We can’t say that anymore.
Only devices with a NXP controller chip can read and write NXP’s mifare classic nfc tags!
Who supplied my phones nfc chip? Prevent problems, buy other nfc tags.

- Multiple Secure Elements in my NFC phone, more competition, more choice, now I can load several mobile wallets?
Unfortunately, without Google’s or your carrier’s support, no multiple mobile wallets. (perhaps with a judicial order .. ;-) )

update dec.’12; I wrote; “Broadcom is the third supplier of NFC controller chips for mobile phones”
I read some more info from Dan Balaban at nfcTimes.com, and it’s better I don’t try to list the first nfc chip suppliers for mobile phones.
Taiwan-based MediaTek recently introduced standalone NFC chips for low-cost Android phones through MStar Semiconductor. “MediaTek already provides NFC for at least a couple of low-cost Android phones from Chinese handset makers K-Touch and Hedy that have either launched or will be introduced soon in China”
And “Samsung Semiconductor has supplied NFC chips for at least one phone, the Samsung bada-based Wave Y.” (Dan)

Texas Instruments introduced combo chips earlier this year (Wifi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS and more on one chip) and expected to ship their first chips in the second half of 2012. Till dec.’12 I found no info about TI nfc chips in cell phones.
O.k. it’s not important who was the first, second or third. To date, NXP is the supplier of the vast majority of all cell phones designs with nfc chip. That is likely to change. I named 6 nfc chip suppliers on this page but there are several others. Very soon more info about this.
Very likely that this controller chips will become cheaper and cheaper, and also available for entry-level handsets.

About the author

Joao Rostli

5 pings

  1. CASIO G’zOne CA-201L, ST NFC controller chip | nfc-phones.org

    [...] technology. STMicroelectronics isn’t a stranger on this website. Several phones have a Broadcom chip with an ST embedded Secure Element [...]

  2. First combo chip with nfc controller made by Broadcom | nfc-phones.org

    [...] all phone manufacturers except one, put them in the phones. If we like it or not. Related Posts new Broadcom NFC chip, the consequencesQualcomm nfc controller chip announcedGoogle Nexus 4 with Broadcom insideMotorola Photon Q 4G LTE [...]

  3. Qualcomm nfc controller chip announced | nfc-phones.org

    [...] an nfc controller, no combo with other technologies and no Secure Element on this chip. Same as the Broadcom chip. It supports connected embedded Secure elements and one or two SIM-based SE with the [...]

  4. Google Nexus 4 with Broadcom inside | nfc-phones.org

    [...] « new Broadcom NFC chip, the consequences [...]

  5. NFC tags; Tectiles, SmartTags, Tag+, Mifare and much more | nfc-phones.org

    [...] 610 (Windows O.S.) have chips from Inside Secure (aug ’12). Update nov.’12; Since the google nexus 4 with a Broadcom nfc controller chip inside, more and more android phones will not read/write mifare classic nfc [...]

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