Is that CPU for real?

Written by Jason Cundall

May 27, 2005 | 14:21

Re-marked and now full blown counterfeit chips are arriving on the scene from the Far East, as lax Intelectual Property laws in many Asian countries make it easier for the fakers to do business:

Counterfeiting activity in the major U.S. port of Los Angeles seems to also have decreased since [chip prices fell], said Wesley Hsu, assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. "It seems like [chip companies] are doing a pretty good job of technologically solving the problem," he said.

On the other hand, U.S. chip companies are starting to see more and more violations of their intellectual property coming out of China, Hatano said. One recent example involved a group that was stripping away layers of a chip to expose the processor core. Since chips are made by etching features onto a silicon wafer over a photo of the design, a counterfeiter could obtain the chip's blueprint by photographing each layer as it is removed, he said.

This level of counterfeiting goes beyond the traditional level of sophistication needed for chip hacking, Hatano said. In most cases of chip counterfeiting using this technique, a chip foundry must look the other way when a company claims to have a new design that needs manufacturing, he said.

More from PCWorld.

Clever, eh? But it does make you stop and think - Is that bargain CPU at the computer fair all it purports to be?

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