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Device Profile: Alien Technology ALR-9800 RFID reader

Aug 5, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Alien Technology used embedded Linux to build a multi-protocol RFID reader that it says exploits features in the latest EPC (electronic product code) specifications, including DRM (dense reader mode). The ALR-9800 can be programmed for remote management or sensor-based actuation using an optional Java/.Net SDK.

According to Alien, the ALR-9800 complies with EPC Class I Gen 2 specifications, including DRM. Additionally, the reader supports Class 1, Class I Gen 2, Class 0, and Class 0+ RFID tags, along with ISO 18000-6c and UHF. It also has future-proofing upgradability, the company says.

As currently shipped, the reader is “configured for FCC operation,” the company says, with European and Asian models to follow. It operates between 902.75MHz and 927.25MHz, supporting 50 frequency hopping channels spaced at 500MHz. Its RF power rating is 4 Watts EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power).

The ALR-9800 supports remote management via SNMP, or through TCP/IP protocols pending EPC ratification. Additionally, it can be managed using Alien's own reader protocol. Alien offers an optional SDK (software development kit) for the device, which provides APIs for both Java and .Net.


The ALR-9800 is available with a Java/.NET SDK

The ALR-9800 includes an unspecified number of optically isolated GPIO (general-purpose I/O) lines, enabling it to drive multiple external devices such as sensors, indicators, and actuators. The reader has an autonomous mode in which it can be actuated by sensors. Other RFID readers require PLCs (programmable logic controllers) to manage external devices, Alien says.

What's under the hood?

The ALR-9800 is based on an Intel XScale SoC (system-on-chip) processor, along with a DSP (digital signal processor). The company says the DSP enables rapid interleaving of different protocols with minimal switching overhead, resulting in fast performance in mixed protocol environments such as high-speed conveyors and dock doors.

The ALR-9800 has 32MB of Flash, and 64MB of RAM. Battery-backed memory prevents the loss of tag data after power failures, Alien says.

The ALR-9800 has four antenna ports, and a “multistatic” antenna design enabling each port to support its own read point, using circular or linearly polarized antennas.

The ALR-9800 supports linear or circular antennas and cables up to six meters


The reader has a rugged physical design meeting IP54 dust and moisture requirements.

Alien CEO Stav Prodromou said, “RFID will thoroughly transform [complex manufacturing, inventory, and distribution operations], and it is anticipated that the ALR-9800 will be a key driver of this transformation.”

Availability

The ALR-9800 will ship in September, but can be ordered now. It is priced at $2,399.


 
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