Sharp and IBM Japan Collaborate on Development of Large-capacity IC Card with New Operating System

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Osaka City & Tokyo - 20 Oct 2004: . . .Sharp Corporation and IBM Japan, Ltd. have announced their collaboration on development of a 1-megabyte flash memory card equipped with IBM's Java Card Open Platform (JCOP), an embedded operating system based on Java TM*1 technology.

Since IC cards can store more information and can be safer than conventional magnetic cards, they have come into wide use in a variety of fields, including public organizations and the financial, transportation, and private-business sectors.  In the future, increased demand is expected for multi-purpose cards that combine multiple functions in a single card.

Sharp's IC cards apply flash memory technology to achieve a large capacity of 1 megabyte, as compared to the conventional IC cards, which usually has capacity ranging from 16 to 32 kilobytes.  Sharp also has an array of IC cards, including 1-chip CPU IC cards, which can be used for both contact type and non-contact type uses, as well as with Java functions.

IBM's JCOP, meanwhile, was developed in 1997 as an operating system to be embedded in IC cards following more than 17 years of research in IC cards at the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory.  It can run applications even on small-scaled processors as well as on memory chips at high speeds.  JCOP supports the Java programming language and can enable easy development of diverse applications in an open-platform environment.  It also has an excellent track record of supporting the VGP (Visa Global Platform), an industry standard for financial cards.

In this collaboration, joint development by Sharp and IBM Japan has led the two companies to successfully equip Sharp's large-capacity IC card with JCOP31, the latest version of JCOP, IBM's operating system for IC cards.  JCOP31 supports various industry standards as well as encryption and authentication functions, including Java CardTM*2 specifications 2.2, which define a Java platform for IC cards, and GlobalPlatform*3 specifications 2.1.1, the world standard for enabling multifunctional IC cards.  It makes it possible to prevent unauthorized practices for applications, such as falsification and spoofing, by implementing high-level security functions.  Furthermore, it supports the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)*4, the U.S. government's next-generation standard encryption scheme, and the Elliptic Curve Cryptosystem (ECC)*5, an encryption scheme that can enable users to obtain a high level of security using short key lengths.

Use of the IC card developed in this collaboration will make it possible, for example, to have a card equipped with multiple functions that include a credit card, employee card, and membership card.  New applications can also be added as required after the cards are issued.

In the future, Sharp and IBM Japan will propose products and services making the best use of the strong points of large-capacity flash memory and JCOP, thereby contributing to the realization of a highly-safe and convenient IC card society that provides card users with a sense of security.

Plans call for the two companies to exhibit the JCOP-based IC card at their respective booths during the Cartes 2004 (, the world's largest card show, which will take place in Paris, France, from November 2 to 4.


*1 Java is a general term for the programming language and its running environment developed by Sun Microsystems Inc.

*2 Java Card is an IC card platform developed by Sun Microsystems Inc., which makes it possible to equip a single card with multiple Java applications in a secure environment.

*3 GlobalPlatform is a set of platform specifications for multifunctional IC card and terminals, standardized by GlobalPlatform, an association established by businesses and organizations from various industries under the leadership of Visa International in 1999.

*4 The Advanced Encryption Standard is the U.S. government's next-generation standard encryption scheme, which is currently being considered for selection by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

*5 The Elliptic Curve Cryptosystem is a public-key cryptosystem devised by Neal Koblitz and Victor Miller independently from each other almost at the same time in 1985.

IBM is a trademark of IBM Corporation.


Java and Java Card are trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

Other products and company names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

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