RFID Tag Basics: What is High Memory?
Posted by Suzanne Smiley on 3rd Feb 2022
Memory size is an important factor when determining the RFID tag, or more specifically, the RFID chipset that is the best fit for an application. In this article we are going to discuss what is considered high memory, why high memory is needed, and applications that commonly use high memory RFID tags/chipsets.
RFID Tags vs. Chipsets
Most people refer to RFID tags having high memory, when in reality, it’s all about the chipset. The reason this difference is important is because most RFID tags are made with several chipset options; for example - the SMARTRAC Dogbone is made with the Monza 4D, Monza R6, Monza R6-P, and M750 chipsets. All four of the chipsets listed above have different EPC, User, and TID memory bank sizes, which means that if memory bank size is important to your application, it’s important to understand all of the available chipset options for each RFID tag before purchasing. To learn more about RFID tag memory banks - read our article 17 Things You Might Not Know About Gen 2 RFID Tag Memory Banks.
Defining High Memory
RFID chipsets with high memory usually have high memory in either the EPC or the User memory bank. The TID and the Reserved memory bank rarely, if ever, will have high memory options because these memory banks are not used for storing data, and are usually Read Only. Because the EPC and User memory banks are most commonly either 32, 96, or 128 bits, the term ‘high memory’ is usually associated with a memory bank size above 128 bits. Before discussing which chips are available with memory banks in the high memory range, let’s talk about what 128 bits equates to.
If a memory bank has 128 bits, you can encode a maximum of 32 hexadecimal (hex) characters on that memory bank. If you prefer ASCII, a 128-bit memory bank can hold up to 16 ASCII characters, which includes the entire alphabet (lower case and upper case), numbers 0-9, and special characters as well. Read our article Encoding RFID Tags: 3 Things to Know to read more about Hex and ASCII.
The following UHF RFID IC’s are the most popular high memory options:
- Alien Higgs-3 (User 512 bits)
- Alien Higgs-9 (User 688 bits)
- Impinj Monza 4E (EPC 496 bits)
- Impinj Monza 4QT (User 512 bits)
- Impinj Monza 4i (EPC 256 bits, User 480 bits)
- Tego Edge Tag/Chip Combo (EPC 496 bits, User 7,424 bits)
- TegoCHIPXM 1k (EPC 496 bits, User 928 bytes or 7,424 bits)
- TegoCHIPXM 8k (EPC 496 bits, User 8366 bytes or 66,928 bits)
- UCODE G2iM (EPC 256 bits, User 512 bits)
- UCODE DNA (EPC 224 bits, User 3072 bits)
- UCODE DNA City (EPC 224 bits, User 1024 bits)
- UCODE DNA Track (EPC 448 bits, User 256 bits)
- UCODE 7xm (EPC 448 bits, User 1024 bits or 2048 bits)
- UCODE 7xm+ (EPC 448 bits, User 2048 bits)
- UCODE 12C (EPC 160 bits, User 3328 bits)
*Before choosing one of these chipsets, ensure that the individual chipset has not been discontinued (EOL’d)
For a list of all the most popular UHF RFID Chips, checkout our IC Comparison Guide here.
Are High Memory Chipsets Frequently Used?
High memory chipsets are typically not necessary for most RFID applications. For most RFID applications, association is a much better way to store a large volume of data. Association is the practice of using a small to normal amount of memory on a UHF RFID tag to encode a unique number, that, when read with the use of software, can pull up all the important information about the tagged item. For example, if you read an RFID tag with the EPC number 857684992009385859, the software could immediately pull up a database with the number and all relevant information, like the image below.
There are five main reasons that users typically choose to use association and not a high memory RFID chip:
1. Response Time: If association is not used, and a large amount of information is stored on the RFID tag, the tag’s response time will be much slower.
2. Physical Damage: If anything happens to the tag such as physical damage, or if the tag is somehow stolen, all of the stored information will be gone.
3. Security: If users are worried about the information being read by unauthorized parties, it is better to keep the information off the tag and in a secure software database. If an unauthorized person reads a tag with a number associated with a software database, the number means nothing to that individual without access to the secure database.
4. Ease of Replacement: If the tag ever needs to be replaced for any reason, it is much easier to copy the same EPC number on the new tag and use association than it is to rewrite all of the information stored on the tag.
5. Price: RFID chips with higher memory bank sizes will cost much more than RFID chips with standard memory bank sizes.
Which Applications Typically Used High Memory Chipsets?
Even though association is usually the best practice for storing data, some users with specific applications still tend to gravitate toward using high memory chipsets to store necessary data. The most common of these applications is Preventative Maintenance. Preventative Maintenance is a popular application that essentially involves placing an RFID tag on a piece of equipment and using either the EPC or User memory bank to log equipment maintenance records. For example, an HVAC company could place UHF RFID tags on individual HVAC systems and each time the system undergoes maintenance, a technician can scan the RFID tag and update its memory bank with relevant information such as the timestamp and any updates or important notes. Using this method, other technicians could easily check the system at later dates and always be updated with the latest maintenance record of the individual HVAC unit.
While encoding this data on the RFID tag itself might be useful in this type of application, because of memory size limitations, the previous maintenance record would most likely have to be erased before the newest record could be written. Because of this, it would be important to have these maintenance records also associated in a database so that as much information as possible could be kept and seen upon scanning the specific RFID tag.
Another common high memory application is parts traceability or quality assurance (QA). In manufacturing facilities, it is important to have quality assurance protocols in place to ensure that if a certain part malfunctions or is faulty, the exact batch information can be easily found and that batch recalled. For instance, in car manufacturing facilities, RFID tags are placed inside specific car parts such as car seats and encoded with a long string of information that directly correlates to the manufacturing facility, date of production, batch information, and more. This long string of information can be placed on the EPC memory bank or the User memory bank, making a high memory chipset a requirement for this application.
Thanks for reading this article about High Memory Chipsets. If you have an application that needs a high memory chipset, please comment below and tell us why you choose a high memory chipset instead of association! If you have any questions about high memory chipsets or choosing one for your application, remember to