US 20010011683 A1
Modules, especially PCMCIA modules, have many properties similar to chip cards, but they cannot be used as such and cannot be personalized as effectively. The module has in addition a standard or modified chip card interface analogous to ISO 7816 ff and is personalized therewith. Modules can be used in standard PC applications, but also personalized and used as chip cards.
1. Module containing microprocessors, memories, and a plug-and-socket connector, in particular a PCMCIA module, characterized in that it is provided and personalized with a chip card interface similar to ISO 7816 ff.
2. Module according to
3. Module according to
4. Module according to
 The invention concerns a module of the type defined in more detail in the preamble of claim 1. Such a module is offered, for example, under the name of PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) and is described in more detail in Funkschau 2/1994, pp. 76-79 by Fereydun Khanide in “Gute Karten für die Zukunft” [Good cards for the future].
 Such modules are designed as additional PC cards thus allowing their application range to be expanded. For many applications it is necessary, or at least recommended, that such a module be personalized. This, however, requires a complex procedure that increases the cost.
 It is known that processor chip cards are being increasingly used as individual electronic encryption devices, for which they are also personalized. Due to their external dimensions and the type of their electric contacts, these are the dominant media in this application field.
 The following properties of chip cards are essential for this purpose:
 1. standard external dimensions, mechanical properties, and interface,
 2. compact storage (stackable),
 3. simple transportation by the user,
 4. (invisible when) carried on the user's body,
 5. numerous plug-in cycles in different terminals, and
 6. cost-effective mechanical-electrical processing even of large numbers in loading individual encryption means or other data in the course of the production process (hereinafter referred to as “personalizing”).
 Processor chip cards have, however, a serious shortcoming: due to the mechanical specifications of ISO Standard 7816 regarding their flexibility, thickness, and interface, the size of their semiconductor chip is limited to approximately 25 cm2. This seriously limits the processor performance of the chip card, and makes it unsuitable for use in many applications, such as, for example, quick data encryption.
 The PCMCIA module, for example, is an alternative to the chip card. It has the same external dimensions, except thickness, as a chip card. The thickness, for example, can be selected with enclosure type I or II (max. thickness=3.5 mm) so that a complete microprocessor architecture can be accommodated. The four-pole interface to the outside allows data transfer rates of up to 30 Mbit/s as opposed to approximately 10 kbit/s for the chip card.
 Of the six aforementioned essential properties of the chip card, the PCMCIA module has the first five and is therefore an almost ideal alternative to the chip card.
 The four-pole interface of the PCMCIA allows high processing rates in operation, but it is a considerable disadvantage from the following points of view:
 a. increased mechanical wear due to complex plug-in contacts; therefore fewer plug-in cycles;
 b. interface contact contamination hazard; thence the need for a protective case for transport on a person's body;
 c. complex mechanical guidance and contacting during the personalization process; therefore this step can only be automated at a high cost;
 d. conventional chip card personalization systems cannot be used for PCMCIA modules as well.
 The object of the invention is to eliminate the above disadvantages of the module, in particular of the PCMCIA module.
 This objective can be achieved with a module having the features presented in the characterizing part of claim 1.
 Advantageous refinements of the invention are presented in the characterizing parts of subclaims 2 through 4.
 The invention is explained below with reference to the embodiments. In the attached drawing,
FIG. 1 shows the the chip card contacts installed, and
FIG. 2 shows the electrical or combined electrical/optical contacts installed.
 The essential feature of this invention is the suggestion to use another interface in the PCMCIA module either as an alternative or as an additional interface. Various options are available for doing this, the most important one being the most frequently used ISO 7816 ff chip card interface normally used, illustrated in FIG. 1.
 In the case of an additional chip card interface, the features of the PCMCIA module are preserved unchanged, and the module also acquires the features of a chip card.
 The use of the chip card interface can be limited to the personalization process, since it cannot offer the full range of functions of a PCMCIA interface that are usually required for “normal operation.”
 The chip card interface provides a power supply option for at least one part of the internal PCMCIA circuit, e.g., for the part that is required for personalization.
 If the personalization process is critical from the security point of view, a program-controlled protection mechanism can be installed (programmed) so that the use of the chip card interface for personalization is only allowed once, i.e., for personalization.
 It is, however, also conceivable to use the chip card interface of the PCMCIA module in “normal operation.” This is always advisable when the full capabilities of the PCMCIA module are not required or when only a chip card interface is available on the terminal. However, in this case, the insertion slot of the chip card terminal must be mechanically modified due to the different thickness of the PCMCIA module as compared to the chip card.
 Existing chip card personalization systems can be retrofitted in a simple manner. Then a PCMCIA module can be personalized and optionally packaged virtually as easily and quickly as a chip card.
 These statements also apply, of course, when using a contactless chip card according to ISO 7816-8.
 When another electric or combined electric-optical interface modified to emulate ISO 7816 ff is used, the cost of the required modification of the existing personalization systems is greater than when a conventional chip card interface is used. However, for “normal operation,” high processing rates can be achieved, which would not be possible with the chip card interface.
 Other solutions are also conceivable, e.g., another electric interface or the combination of two electrical contacts for power supply and one optical interface for (high-speed) communication according to FIG. 2, or inductive interfaces.