Re-marked Intel chips reappearing in the Middle East, processor manufacturer warns

Intel warns authorities of overclocked chips in local market and is prepared to take action against those involved

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By  Mark Sutton Published  July 28, 2001

Re-marked chips are reported to be appearing in the Middle East market again. Channel sources say that a small number of Intel chips are filtering through to the region, as counterfeiters exploit a vulnerability in Pentium III chips.

Intel says that it is aware of the problem, but that the numbers involved at this point in time are very small, and the authorities are ready to take action against those involved.

The problem marks a reversal of the situation in previous years, where re-marking, the practice of passing off an overclocked chip as a faster model, was all but eliminated on most chips. The recent problems are due to the transition from 100MHz to 133 MHz front side bus on the Pentium III processor (the Pentium 4 has not been affected). By overclocking the bus, the CPU is also speeded up. Some counterfeiters are taking advantage of this to fraudulently sell chips as faster clock speed models than they are actually supposed to be.

Tanguy de La Horie, business manager for Intel architecture products, Middle East & North Africa, explained that the practice was dangerous and harmful to business. “If you overclock a processor, it overheats. In an office environment, with the PC on 24 hrs a day, its life expectancy is going to be much shorter. Typically people that buy these CPUs know there is something fishy about them, they buy them under price, they put them in a very cheap casing that doesn’t ventilate well and it skyrockets the chance that they will meltdown. Technically it is a very dangerous proposition. It hurts the end user and the channel, because the end user is going to find out about it and complain.”

De La Horie says that re-marking had all but been eliminated in 1998-99, as the process was too difficult to make it commercially viable. Now although the process is feasible, it is still difficult enough to limit the flow of re-marked chips.

“It is done outside this region, and requires pretty precise tooling—these fake products are a trickle, otherwise we would have computer failures all over the place,” he said.

Intel has recently made the Dubai Chamber of Commerce aware of the practice, and according to Intel’s distributor for Egypt, Aptec, the Egyptian Ministry of Economy is also aware of the problem. The company is also working to distribute software to detect overclocked chips to system integrators.

The software can be downloaded from the Internet from Intel

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