GENEVA, SWITZERLANDSmart-card integrated-circuit (IC) maker STMicroelectronics has developed a low-power processor chip dedicated to managing SIM data for machine-to-machine (M2M) cellular communications. Recent research is suggesting that this expanding market could account for over 200 million mobile connections by 2013. The ST32-M IC family combines the advantages of nonproprietary processor architecture and high-density, low-power, embedded-Flash memory, enabling machines to connect to cellular networks, authenticate themselves, and communicate automatically.

Applications using M2M capabilities include the European eCall road-accident alert system, which is planned for launch this year (see Figure). That system allows vehicles to automatically inform rescue services of the location and details of an accident. To communicate with the cellular network, the ST32-M has the same capabilities and security features as the company's existing ST32 smart-card processor, which is used in cell-phone SIM cards. The ST32-M is designed explicitly for M2M applications. By operating from -40 to +105C, it allows M2M equipment to function in harsh environments.