From the editor's desk: Fake chips aren’t going away - 16 August 2017 - Technews Publishing - Dataweek
mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2017


 

From the editor's desk: Fake chips aren’t going away
16 August 2017, News

Anyone who’s designed and tested electronic circuits will tell you, having a circuit that doesn’t work is not the worst that can happen; it’s the intermittent faults that really hurt. For a product that’s gone into full production, having those products begin to fail in the field is about the worst outcome the manufacturer can face, necessitating repairs, recalls and possibly even redesigns. All of these problems, and many others besides, can be caused by fake or counterfeit electronic components.

It’s important to have a clear definition of what exactly makes a fake component fake, and the US Department of Commerce provides a definition of a counterfeit electronic part as “one that is not genuine because it: is an unauthorised copy; does not conform to original OCM (original component manufacturer) design, model or performance standards; is not produced by the OCM or is produced by unauthorised contractors; is an off-specification, defective, or used OCM product sold as ‘new’ or working; or has incorrect or false markings or documentation, or both.”

You may imagine these counterfeit chips being manufactured using cobbled together or out-of-date manufacturing equipment in a factory off some back alley in Shanghai and loaded into the back of an unmarked truck in the dead of night, but there are in fact several ways for them to find their way into the supply chain. While many are indeed made on illegal production lines, they are not always of such poor quality as to fail immediately, or at all, but substandard or non-existent cleanliness, packaging and testing means they almost never meet the guaranteed specifications of the ‘real McCoy’.

Other ways for them to be dispersed is by being salvaged from electronic waste, cleaned up and sold on the grey market. Buyers in particular risk of this tactic are those looking to obtain obsolete parts that are critical to their product’s design. Your best bet is always to buy from the original component manufacturer or one of their authorised distributors/resellers. Some companies even buy up stock of soon-to-be-obsolete parts and stockpile them, providing a legitimate supply source far beyond their obsolescence date.

There have also been claims of manufacturing rejects being packaged, marked and interjected into the supply chain as fully tested devices, by someone with access to the production facility. Amazon had a scare recently with stories of fake AMD processors showing up for sale, supposedly originating from a case of a customer who returned one as faulty, in its original and apparently unopened packaging, only to be resold to an unsuspecting buyer.

It’s not only unscrupulous or desperate electronics manufacturers who fall victim to counterfeit components. Last year three Chinese men pleaded guilty to conspiring to buy genuine field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) stolen from a US Navy base and replacing them with fake versions. An undercover agent foiled the plot before the duds could find their way into critical weapons systems.

The problem of counterfeit components has reached such proportions that the Silicon Industry Association (SIA) in the USA has set up an anti-counterfeiting task force which works continuously to curtail the supply and demand for these illegal products and to educate customers on how to avoid purchasing counterfeits. The association produced a 28-page white paper in 2013 which described the size of the problem and methods to mitigate the dangers. While it goes into much detail, the upshot of that white paper amounts to what should be considered common sense:

“As compared to the authorised market, the open market, including independent distributors, brokers, and Internet-based component exchanges, has far fewer controls over proper handling, storage and transportation of components, and often lacks component traceability to the manufacturer. This lack of controls and traceability, along with the frequency and ease at which components move through this non-authorised supply chain make the open market an easy target for counterfeiters to infiltrate to sell their illegal products that often have poor reliability. Semiconductor products purchased on the open market may be cheaper in the short-term than those bought from authorised sources, but they can be far more expensive in the long-term if they are counterfeit and/or were improperly handled and stored, thus potentially resulting in major rework costs and high warranty or liability claims.”

Postscript:

Have you ever been the victim of counterfeit components, or do you know of anyone who has? Send me your story – anonymously if you wish – to brett@technews.co.za

Brett van den Bosch

Editor


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Technews Publishing
Tel: +27 11 543 5800
Fax: +27 11 787 8052
Email: malckey@technews.co.za
www: www.technews.co.za
  Share on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Electronics news digest
    15 August 2018, News
    Overseas    Business • Silicon Labs reported financial results for its second quarter ended 30 June 2018. Revenue established a new all-time record, achieving the high end of guidance at $217 million, ...
  • Events
    15 August 2018, News
    Innovation in Industry    7 September 2018    Nelson Mandela University    Technical conference focused on sharing applications of new technology being used in the South African arena.    Register at http://iic.mandela.ac.za...
  • Conical Technologies and Mini Circuits invest in education
    15 August 2018, News
    Daniel Haywood, CEO of Conical Technologies, distributor of Mini-Circuits, said they have made this commitment because they believe it is essential to invest in education in South Africa.
  • Win a single-wire EEPROM evaluation kit
    15 August 2018, News
    The DM160232 serial memory single-wire evaluation kit from Microchip Technology is an easy-to-use interactive user tool, which demonstrates the advanced features, functionality and low-power operation ...
  • From the Editor's desk: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
    15 August 2018, Technews Publishing, News
    With South Africa celebrating Women’s Day on 9 August, and in fact the entire month as Women’s Month, I would like to take this opportunity to honour some of history’s most famous female engineers and ...
  • Input invited for SADC engineering study
    15 August 2018, News
    In 2011, the SADC (Southern African Development Community) ministers of science and technology endorsed an engineering needs and numbers study, to get a better understanding of the actual numbers of engineers, ...
  • Wits researchers look to photonics to bridge digital divide
    15 August 2018, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, News
    Africa has 20% of the world’s population but only 4% of its Internet data access. This digital divide, with low Internet connectivity reach, particularly in rural areas, is both economic and geographic ...
  • CSIR showcases mine safety technologies
    15 August 2018, News
    The topic of safety in mines has been in the South African news for all the wrong reasons, not just lately, but for much too long and at the cost of far too many lives. The CSIR has been developing a ...
  • Competition challenges use of technology to make music
    15 August 2018, RS Components (SA), News
    RS Components has launched a global design challenge on its DesignSpark engineering and maker community website, offering a winning prize worth £1500 of products from the RS range. The 'Summer of Sound' ...
  • Female SA coding champs heading for Amsterdam
    15 August 2018, News
    Girlcode, a social enterprise that aims to empower young girls and women through technology, has announced the national winners of it its 5th annual Hackathon. The grand prize-winning team, ‘Lightbulb’, ...
  • Stellenbosch University promotes tech innovation with new ‘Makerspace’
    15 August 2018, RS Components (SA), News
    Stellenbosch University’s LaunchLab has partnered with RS Components to introduce its ‘Makerspace’ to the world. The LaunchLab was born from an initiative called Innovus, the industry interaction and ...
  • SA buys R1 billion entrance ticket to fourth industrial revolution
    18 July 2018, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    Yekani has outgrown its contract manufacturing roots and is fast becoming a major player in the South African OEM market.

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.