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How to differentiate types of smart cards

How to differentiate types of smart cards

As building automation has evolved over the years, almost all previously disparate systems have been integrated into a single management platform. With these changes brings the possibility of having a single, “smart” access card that allows users to access different services and facilities according to different authorization rights. For example, a single smart card could allow a user to reach certain floors via the elevator, gain access to restricted rooms, open the gate to the parking lot and more. These integrated systems and smart cards have applications in smart communities, smart homes, industrial parks and other highly managed environments.


Types of Smart Cards
There are numerous technologies on the market that can power universal access cards, and they all have one thing in common—silicon. Smart cards are “smart” because they have embedded chips that can store and process data. Different types of smart cards may perform better than that others in certain situations; according to their architecture, smart cards can be classified as follows:

Memory Card
Its embedded chip is equivalent to a normal serial E2PROM storage unit. Some chips are even designed to have write protection on certain areas of the chip. Memory cards can conveniently store data, are simple to use and are inexpensive. In many cases, memory cards can replace magnetic cards; however, since memory cards are not encrypted, they are limited to low-security applications.

Security Card
In addition to storing data, the embedded chips in security cards also have logic controls that will not allow access to the stored data unless the password is accepted. Security cards provide better security for the stored data, while retaining the ease of use of memory cards.


CPU Card
CPU cards embed chips that are not only capable of storing data, but can also process it. These chips come complete with internal controllers, storage units, sequential logic circuits, arithmetic units and operating system. CPU cards are widely used in environments that require a high level of security, due to its higher storage capacity, processing capability, and better data encryption.

Smart Card
Smart cards have their own integrated MPU, hard drive, keyboard, LCD display and power supply. Some even include fingerprint scanners. According to the way data is read and written, smart cards are either contact-based IC cards or contactless IC cards.

Contact-Based IC Card
Data in the card is accessed by the reader through contact. This type of smart card is regulated by ISO7816 standards.

Contactless IC Card
Contactless IC cards transmit data to and from card reads via various types of wireless transmission technologies, such as light or radio waves. Its embedded chips not only have storage and logic control units, they also have integrated wireless transceiver circuitry. Contactless cards are used in environments where data is accessed frequently and where reliability is crucial. Contactless cards are regulated by ISO10536 standards.

For more informationaobut smart cards technology, please register for Secutech 2014.

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