RFID technologies today use floating-gate transistors to store data in flash memory blocks that can only be read and written together a limited number of times, making updates slow and cumbersome. Ramtron's new MaxArias family, on the other hand, uses ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) whose data values can be individually changed up to 100 trillion times, making updates fast and easy. FRAMs also use less power to change data values and have a 20-year data retention time.
Smarter radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are on their way now that Ramtron International has added wireless access to its ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM). The new wireless FRAM family—called MaxArias—supports smart RFID applications that instantly update up to 1,000 16-bit data values at a distance of 10 meters (30 feet) using the latest standard protocol—the UHF EPC Class 1 Generation 2. MaxArias microchips, when mounted in a flat millimeter-sized RFID tag with a tiny UHF antenna, can store data about the item to which they are attached, which can be queried by an electronic reader that "pings" it with a radio frequency (RF) signal. No battery is required because the energy to operate the microchip is harvested from the RF signal.