Counterfeiting is not unique to semiconductors; in fact, it’s not even a new idea.
Counterfeit and substandard products enter the global supply chain every day and have a negative effect on many industries: money/currency, stamps, clothing/fashion, wine, toys, computer hardware and software, electronic devices, semiconductors… and I’m sure you can think of others.
Earlier this year, US electronics retailer Newegg confirmed that counterfeit Intel Core i7 920 CPUs had made their way into its inventory, and several had been shipped to customers. (See: Newegg Axes Supplier Over Fake Intel Chips.) The counterfeit Intel Core i7 920 CPUs, sold as standalone or boxed chips, had spelling errors on the box, a blank instruction manual, a heat sink made of epoxy or plastic molding, and a picture of a CPU fan glued to the top of the plastic heat sink! The CPU was comprised of layers of metal and PCB with a fake IHS on the top and a sticker attached with typical Core i7 information.
Not exactly the most sophisticated counterfeiting operation, and yet the counterfeit products passed through all of the testing and verification of authenticity procedures, only to land in the hands of end customers. With counterfeiting operations developing new and advanced techniques, it is alarming to see such a simplistic counterfeit scam work.
In coming months, I will be discussing in this column the global semiconductor supply chain, semiconductor manufacturing and distribution trends, end-of-life events, semiconductor counterfeiting and substandard procurement concerns, anti-counterfeiting measures and tactics, and what original semiconductor manufacturers, OEMs, and government agencies are doing to reduce illegitimate product from reaching the end user. I look forward to exchanging ideas with you and reporting on ways we can all work to improve the semiconductor industry.