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Researchers have shown that the Electronic Product Code (EPC) Class-1 Generation-2 (C1G2) specification has serious security problems. To overcome these weaknesses, some authors have proposed a specially designed pad generation (PadGen) function to improve security. The PadGen function is used to produce a cover-coding pad to mask the tag's access password before the data are transmitted. In this paper, we study the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag-reader mutual authentication (TRMA) scheme. Two improved authentication protocols for generating the PadGen function are described. A hardware design of these RFID authentication protocols conforming to the International Standards Organization 18000-6 Type-C protocol, also known as EPC C1G2 RFID protocol, is proposed. Since tags have an extremely limited computing power and storage capacity, the PadGen function based on exclusive-or operation for low-cost hardware implementation is reported in this study. The proposed RFID TRMA protocol was simulated using Modelsim XE II and synthesized using Altera's Quartus II software. The functionality of these strengthening protocols was successfully verified in hardware using an Altera DE2 board that included an Altera Cyclone II field-programmable gate array.