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January 14th, 2010 ~ by admin

Counterfeit IC’s: A growing problem

EETimes has another article about a person being charged/convicted of selling counterfeit chips to the US navy. This has been a growing problem in the electronics industry for the last decade, but has its roots much earlier then that.

It was common in the 90’s for counterfeiters (aka remarkers) to take a processor, wipe the markings, and mark it with a higher speed. This was rather common with the Pentium era and newer, but occurred with 486’s as well. To a computer user this typically meant that their computer ran much warmer, and often times less stable.

To a collector this means you must be VERY careful when looking at processors in your museum to ensure that rare sample you have, is not in fact a clever forgery, or that Pentium 133 is not in fact a remarked 75.

Having your computer crash or having a few fake CPUs in your collection is a mere annoyance, but what about actual use? For example a part listed as mil-spec, with a wide temperature operating band, that controls a ships defensive systems? If this is in fact a fake (remarked from a commercial spec IC, which has been happening). The system could and likely WILL fail at the worst time. The result? People lose their lives.

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