HID vs NXP Credentials

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Sep 12, 2013

Two companies dominate the global market for access control credentials: HID Global and NXP Semiconductor. Both companies own or influence huge chunks of the credentials game, so which one should you choose? In this note, we explain how their offerings differ, interoperate, and how the choice impacts system selection.

Credentials Dominated by Giants

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Comments (5)

Philips (NXP) introduce Mifare in 1994, it is compliant to ISO 14443A, parts 1-3 while DESFire was introduced in 2002, it is compliant to ISO 14443A, parts 1-4. iClass, using Inside Contactless's chip, was introduced in 2002, it is also partially compliant to ISO 15693, primarily to operate at lower speeds over longer ranges, or, the majority of installations.

Compliance does not mean interoperability. ISO standards (ISO 14443 and 15693) do not specify: Encryption use, Key Management, IC's memory structure, memory access or application data structure which are rather important unless you are using the CSN for access control. When reading a brochure, just becuase it lists "support" for NXP Mifare, HID iClass, Legic advant, or Sony FeLica does not mean the reader is reading anything other than the CSN per the ISO standard.

ISO14443A uses 100% modulation, meaning that the reader stops emitting the field for defined periods of time. The modulation for ISO 14443B is only 10% which preserves the continuity of the clock. There was an attempt by Sony to specify FeliCa as "ISO 14443 Type C", but is now standardized under the NFC umbrella specification ISO 18092.

Just a quick question. Do I need to understand the different ISO standards in order to know what cards will work with what reader. I am not an engineer and am trying to grasp what will work with what.

Feedback welcomed. Thanks.

Agreed - I am in the same position and have the same question. I think the main point is that compliance does not mean that there will be interoperability and to look beyond what a product 'states' which credentials it supports. Hence, why Mifare and DESFire readers won't necessarily support HID iClass even though they both meet ISO 14443A standards. Possibly?

Only portions of the total data load may be read depending on which ISO14443 part is supported. Take a look at this HID chart:

(I've highlighted details in red)

Notice how support varies depending on which ISO14443 part is used.

There is provisional (very simple) support for iClass readers in both parts. The 'CSN', or 'Card Serial Number' can be read if either part is supported.

However, the 'CSN' does not use the encryption benefits of the card, and is essentially a unique number and nothing more. If the benefits of iClass are to be used, the card must be ISO14443 Part B.

Despite many products claiming 'ISO14443 compatible', on closer examination parts A & B further divide 'how compatible' they truly are.

This section is much like the Credentials Guide in the first part of the class. Emphasizing the nonexistence of interoperability of a credential unless both reader and credential utilize the same ISO standard is a great point.

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