Infineon has produced 2 billion chip card modules Demand for chip cards continues to increase

Jun 26, 2002 | Technology Media

Munich, June 26, 2002 – Infineon has developed and produced integrated circuits (ICs) and modules for chip card applications in Regensburg-Burgweinting for ten years now. The one-billionth module was produced in 1999, some 7 years after the start of production. And now the second billion milestone has been reached already after just another 30 months. The gold pad on a chip card encapsulates the chip like an enclosure and is called a module. When the chip card is inserted into a reader terminal, e.g. in medical practices, phone booths or automated teller machines, the gold contact surface makes the electrical connection between the computer in the terminal and the chip.

About one in two of the roughly 2 billion chip cards issued worldwide in 2001 is equipped with a security chip from Infineon either as chip only or encapsulated in a module. One in three of the chips on the approximately 750 million SIM cards currently installed in cellular phones worldwide comes from Infineon. Infineon security chips can also be found in 65 percent of the 1.5 billion or so prepaid phone cards sold worldwide. Infineon is also the main supplier for the policyholder cards issued by health insurance schemes in Germany: of the 200 million health insurance cards supplied since 1993, 175 million originate from Infineon.

As the world market leader in security chips for chip cards, Infineon shipped more than 1.1 billion of these chips last year. Around 860 million chips were destined for applications in phone cards and health insurance ID cards, while more than 280 million chips are used in multifunctional chip cards issued by the banking industry, in security applications and cellular phones.

“The relentless advance of the chip card began over a decade ago. Generally increasing security requirements and the steadily improving performance of our chips will lead to further demand growth in this market,” said Dr. Hermann Eul, head of the

Security & Chip Card ICs business group at Infineon Technologies. Market researchers, Eul continued, are currently predicting annual growth rates of around 20 percent for chip card ICs in the next several years. Eul added: “With an annual production capacity of 750 million modules we will make a decisive contribution to further expanding our market share.”

Innovative projects such as system-on-card, fingerprint sensor or “watermark” on modules are driving technological development ahead. With system-on-card, the package specialists at Infineon, working in cooperation with international partners, are providing the impetus for new card applications aimed at integrating an electronic display, a fingerprint sensor or interactive functionality on a single card. This will enable the user, for example, to check money transactions on a cashcard and query the current balance at any time.

The wafers from which chips are produced must become thinner and thinner to make the chip flexible and less sensitive. In Regensburg, 700µm-thick silicon wafers are currently being reduced as standard to a “thinness” of less than 150µm, which is equivalent in strength to a sheet of paper. New developments are already demanding less than 100µm, and in future the wafers will be down to 20 µm thin.

About Infineon

Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for applications in the wired and wireless communications markets, for security systems and smartcards, for the automotive and industrial sectors, as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In the fiscal year 2001 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 5.67 billion with about 33,800 employees worldwide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Sock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX). Further information is available at

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