Thursday, October 02, 2008

More Hot Chips

We've discussed in this blog several times about the threat posed by counterfeit semiconductors. Today's Business Week ran a long article about the incredible way fake chips get into US defense equipment. The Pentagon's policy of buying hard-to-find spares from the cheapest sources and from small businesses creates a gigantic crack for fakes to leak through.

Many of these parts are old, and are impossible for buyers to authenticate. Fakers sand off the original markings, and replace with bogus text.

The semiconductor industry is currently working on a method to uniquely identify semiconductors with an encrypted identifier (called SEMI T20) - which will allow buyers to verify authenticity. This won't help authenticate 20 year old devices - but it could prevent the problem 20 years from now.