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Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 2:34 AM

Saw this on the BBC news site

The number of fake memory chips and processors in use has tripled since 2009, suggests a report.

The report, compiled by semiconductor analyst IHS iSuppli, said fakes were found in phones, computers, military hardware, cars and hospital equipment.

The analyst said the fakes were turning up in so many places that they might soon put lives at risk.

The military and aerospace firms were the most likely to be using fakes, it said.

Chip police

More than 1,363 fakes were reported in 2011, said the report, and threatened to dent a market worth more than $169bn (£109bn) a year.

The five most widely counterfeited chips included memory chips, microprocessors and analogue integrated circuits (IC).

Analogue ICs are widely used in domestic gadgets such as wireless routers, TVs and computers.

Typically, said iSuppli, the fake parts were low cost copies of widely used semi-conductors or components discarded by chip firms during fabrication.

Manufacturing wastage for semi-conductors is high because the components are stringently tested to ensure they will perform reliably throughout their life.

Rory King, a spokesman for iSuppli, said using counterfeit chips could have serious consequences because they were much more likely to fail.

"A faulty counterfeit analogue IC can cause problems ranging from a mundane dropped phone call to a serious tragedy in the aviation, medical, military, nuclear or automotive areas," he said in a statement.

A separate survey carried out by iSuppli found that fake components were most widespread in electronic equipment used by aerospace firms and the military.

Mr King added that electronics firms were coming under more pressure to watch out for fakes as governments enact regulations that force them to police component suppliers.

We use a well known supplier, and never encountered an issue.

Anyone had issues with fake components?

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#1

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 7:13 AM

Not necessarily fake, but I heard or read a similar story this week, about the US government and it's contractors, purchasing substandard chips, processors, and all kinds of electronics from the Chinese, which are being used in much of our military applications.

According to the story, when the US complained about the failure rate, the Chinese basically shrugged their shoulders and said, "Too bad. It's the free market. You get what you pay for".

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 8:12 AM

I agree, there is a difference between getting the best price on a similar product and buying a substandard one...Buyer beware, know your supplier and the level of commitment to quality components....

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Anonymous Poster #1
#16
In reply to #1

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/15/2012 6:35 PM

I really detest posts that slam the Chinese and make out that the USA is the best at everything. If they were, they wouldn't be in the position they are now globally. Small minded 'blame-the-other-guy' approaches is not the way the world works. Most IC manufacturers are from China but unfortunately, like in any society, there are copy-cats and people that want to make easy money from people that want to compromise quality with cost - which are also mostly from China. But to blame 'everything from China' is sub-standard is just wrong. I'm sorry but I cannot accept your initial reply.

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Anonymous Poster #2
#18
In reply to #16

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/16/2012 4:18 AM

My take is that a small number of pirate companies make just about everything Chinese suspect....

There is so much Chinese crap around, its simply good advice to avoid it all completely.....

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Anonymous Poster #1
#20
In reply to #18

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/16/2012 6:12 PM

Don't the Chinese own the USA? Isn't the US debt to the Chinese?

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#3

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 9:35 AM

I blame it on management philosophy. In most high tech industries, there is an initial focus on quality and reliability at the design and testing stages, then once something goes into full production, buyers and planners are put under enormous pressure from management to reduce costs. I used to do a lot of work for Applied Materials, their buyers and production planners were REQUIRED to reduce costs by 10 - 20% per year or they were fired. Intel, who uses a lot of Applied equipment, then had to implement a very expensive program with their suppliers called "Copy Exact" in order to protect themselves from the effects of that cost reduction pressure. The cost of implementing it has to be borne by the suppliers, so they have to increase their prices anyway. Then some new supplier gets a contract simply because they fail to recognize the cost of "Copy Exact" and loose their asses, often resulting in bankruptcy. It's a vicious cycle and all along, the counterfeiters are waiting in the wings for that desperate buyer who has to make the mortgage payment or who's kid just got accepted at Stanford...

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#4

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 9:55 AM

We have discussed counterfeit components before. I agree, a real problem.

Some discussions I remember: here is one, here is another.

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#17
In reply to #4

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/15/2012 9:21 PM

Thanks for the links.

i agree, when buying large shipments, doing random inspections on the incomming batch is key.

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#5

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 1:33 PM

It seems obvious that the manufacturers themselves are to blame for a lack of control over their waste management. There are a few easy(?) ways that may help manage the problem better. The most obvious is to either disable or destroy the chips at the end of the testing process, or embed a cipher/hash code that is unique to each part and its manufacturing/grade status. In the former the waste never leaves the factory (but of course it can't be resold by unscrupulous manufacturers) so it never gets to the grey market. In the latter no two parts are the same so all(?) the purchaser has to do is check each part for uniqueness and/or authenticity by a multi-factor communication with the part OEM; it would also make the purchaser culpable if he didn't verify his parts with the supplier. The problem is the logistics and incremental cost to do all this, plus the lack of revenue opportunity for the unscrupulous dealers out there.

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#6

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 10:32 PM

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 10:48 PM

Whenever "money"................either saving it or making it, takes precedence over quality, everyone suffers.

The entire planet is being run by board members, stock holders and politicians. Quality product is no longer part of the equation. If it is, it's just barely.

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#12
In reply to #7

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/14/2012 2:28 PM

GA

Basically you beat me to it! Well done.

Having worked for companies where price played a bigger role than quality, it happens far too often, I can only agree with you....

I am fascinated that the company "waste" is being reused, I did not know that was also a way for the crooks to make money......that really is an easy problem to fix with hardly any thought to it......

Personally, I have never had a fake chip though......

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#13
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Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/14/2012 5:12 PM

Thanks Andy.

Maybe a little off topic, but not much.

The US has the highest corporate tax rates on the planet, along with regulations out the yin yang....................Europe is right there with us. I can only speak toward my feelings about the US, but as far as I'm concerned, the US, and much of Europe also, can make things better, safer, more environmentally responsibly, than anyone else on the planet. The only thing they have going for them is cheaper. The labor and lost time that it costs to change out crap parts with more crap parts is ridiculous.

We need to lower our corporate tax rates, make our country's attractive to business, let them set up shop, put people to work...........................and get back to the business of creating the highest quality stuff around, at a fair price. It won't be the cheapest. I'm so tired of garbage I could spit.

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#19
In reply to #12

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/16/2012 12:18 PM

Couldn't help noticing that something I just posted over in this thread is relevant to the idea of "waste," and could, probably be a thread by itself.

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#8

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 11:01 PM

While on paper you are right, it is moronic to neglect inspection on incoming items. On the long term, developing good relations with your suppliers is essential.

And when it is really critical - do not moan - do it yourself, or close to it.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 11:10 PM

You're right on incoming inspections. We have extensive inspections and hi quality labs to do any kind of decap. And we DO it. There have been numerous prosecutions. It's just that there are way more lots than what we are able to process.

We take it seriously. It's just that the crooked lawyers on the other side take things for ALL they can get.

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#10

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/13/2012 11:56 PM

There are other considerations where these item are not quite what they are supposed to be, India has taken some action to protect its communication services, link

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6e5f923a-53b8-11df-aba0-00144feab49a.html

USA and other goverments should use there own manufacturers where national security is concerned.

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#11

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/14/2012 2:03 PM

The company I work for bought a 'life time' supply of a discontinued part only to find out later that the chips were empty.

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#15
In reply to #11

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/14/2012 5:34 PM

StandardsGuy

You're saying there was no incoming inspection on that discontinued/lifetime buy ?!?

Doesn't sound like a good business/engineering model. I'da hated to be the "go to" guy on that process. To me, he sounds like a "WENT HOME UNEMPLOYED" guy

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#14

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

04/14/2012 5:14 PM

Its a problem in the Nuke world. I know of one facility that has training and handouts on detecting "counterfeit" products such as Square D breakers and bolts. Counterfeit bolts could be deadly.

Im told a Chinese company exported pipe to the US, had a phoney test cert attached, then returned it to china as "made in usa" where a piece of it exploded and killed someone.

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#21

Re: Fake Semiconductors 'Could Cause Tragedy'

03/05/2013 12:46 PM

I have seen plenty of counterfeits. One of the most common counterfeits is a counterfeit Certificate of Conformance or Certificate of Analysis. I have one contractor I deal with who had to go through a major recall because of a nonconforming component, waste probably the whole contract's profit on rework, and still they try to tell me that a Certificate of Conformance is acceptable proof of Quality in their incoming parts.

The other most common I have dealt with involve obsolete parts. When the contractor insists on using obsolete parts, it is easy for used parts recycled from old electronics to find their way back into the product stream. Recycling in this case involves welding new leads onto ICs, resurfacing the top of the IC and printing the logo and part # of whatever manufacturer might be deemed acceptable, packaging that into the packs, tubes, or reels with marks like a real manufacturer, and selling them to a distributor as new and unused.

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