Counterfeit chips: A $169 billion tech supply chain headache

Counterfeit chips: A $169 billion tech supply chain headache

Summary: The product fallout from counterfeit semiconductors can range from little things like dropped calls to much bigger issues such as plane crashes.


Counterfeit semiconductors have proliferated through corporations and the military and are a $169 billion risk to the electronics supply chain, according to research firm IHS.

According to IHS, these fake chips have proliferated and are used for industrial purposes and found in cars, consumer electronics, wireless and networking gear and computers. Analog chips, microprocessors, memory and transistors are commonly counterfeited.

Here's a look at the most common counterfeit semiconductor types and percentage share of the market in terms of revenue.

What's the risk? For starters there are quality control issues. These counterfeit chips are created from materials that could be salvaged waste. The product fallout can range from little things like dropped calls to much bigger issues such as plane crashes, medical issues and billions of dollars in returned goods.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Hardware, Networking, Processors, Software

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  • The ultimate counterfeit

    A LONG time ago I built a 486 system. I picked up all the HW locally and put it together. After running some tests I became a bit suspicious. I ran some tests on memory latency/performance and discovered that the system had no L2 cache, despite having chips on the motherboard and the BIOS reporting L2 cache.

    It turned out that the L2 chips were pieces of plastic with pins/legs soldered to the board, but with NO electronics inside at all. This was clearly a high level con job given the BIOS reporting non-existent cache. I guess many unsuspecting consumers never did notice.

    Edit: Of course the board was RMA'd and I never went back to that supplier. I contacted the local computer rag publisher, but they did not want to write about the story, depending too much on supplier advertizing revenue I guess. It is a great world we live in.
  • So...

    I read this really in depth article of this guy who went over to Thailand (I think) and would go out on the street markets and buy up all these random microSD chips.

    He worked in the industry and took them back to his lab and did a write-up on the very subtle differences in logo markings and claimed all these were counterfeit and the operations extremely shady.
    • link to the article

      Perhaps you mean this article: