Motorola Inc. said it is changing a production process to meet anticipated demand for smart card chips.

Motorola said it will increase the size of the silicon wafers from which chips are fabricated to eight inches from six inches.

Chip card manufacturing had remained based on six-inch wafers even after the rest of the semiconductor industry moved to eight-inchers to accelerate production, Motorola said. It wants to be first in the chip card market to upgrade and will do so at a factory in Phoenix that is undergoing a $1.1 billion expansion.

"We believe advanced technology will play a significant role in encouraging our customers to migrate toward increased-feature cards-for example, more data in a health card or more phone numbers in a (mobile telephone) card," said Mike Inglis, division manager, Motorola smart information transfer. "The technology will also enable the emerging multiapplication card markets so that points gained from loyalty schemes can be credited directly to the card user's bank account."

Mr. Inglis said Motorola will initially produce industry-standard, eight-bit microprocessor cores but a more advanced chip will be announced later this year and memory capacities are expanding. "We will also reduce personalization times and enhance security," he said.

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