Semiconductor manufacturers are the most directly affected by counterfeiters. Not only do they lose direct sales, their credibility and brand image can be compromised. In addition, they must incur additional expenses for maintaining the security of their intellectual property if they use subcontractors; for developing and implementing security policies and procedures; and for hiring and training personnel to carry them out. It is also expensive, but necessary, for companies to follow up on confirmed or suspected counterfeit incidents and report them to the proper industry and government agencies. Some companies are working on developing sophisticated identification technologies that can be included in the production of components, but these are also extremely costly.
Franchised and authorized distributors, who procure their entire product from the original manufacturer or their authorized sources, are the least affected by the counterfeiting issue. In addition to utilizing authorized sources, these distributors also control their warehousing and shipping security. Because of these practices, their entire inventory is traceable. As a further protection, many authorized distributors provide their staff with counterfeiting awareness training. Unauthorized distributors, however, purchase from many different sources. The inventory that is acquired this way is not traceable to the original manufacturer, and is oftentimes compromised, mishandled, or even counterfeit. Unfortunately, these faulty components are not set aside or properly disposed of, and make their way into the semiconductor supply chain.
Electronics equipment manufacturers must spend money on ongoing training programs for purchasing staff. They often have to conduct or outsource expensive testing. Counterfeits that somehow make their way to the production line can cost money in manufacturing downtime. If the counterfeits make their way into manufactured product and cause failure, losses stack up because of returns and replacements. Company reputation and brand image also suffer.
When products manufactured with counterfeit components fail when they are finally in the hands of the end user, whether private or commercial, more costs stack up.
But the negative impact of counterfeits is obviously not just about losing money. Many of the components sold in the recently prosecuted case were intended for systems that have a direct impact on human safety, the most obvious being systems used by the US military. Military failures also may threaten US national security.
The continuing escalation in the number of counterfeit parts making their way into the US supply chain – particularly the military supply chain – has prompted the US government to take a closer look. In March 2011, Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) (chairman) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced a Senate Armed Services Committee investigation into counterfeit electronic parts in the Department of Defense’s supply chain. In November, the committee held a hearing on the investigation. In his testimony at the hearing, committee witness Brian Toohey, president of the US Semiconductor Industry Association, said, "A counterfeit semiconductor is a ticking time bomb." Among other suggestions, Senator Levin proposed changes to the Defense Department’s acquisition procedures that would put more responsibility for the costs of counterfeit parts on the contractors.
And the lack of mentioning that the min cost will be in the 10's if not 100's of thousands of $$ for the remanufacture !!. There are benefits to both !!.. Military and others need to make contigency for min 25-50% replacement (service) parts adn possibly even 100% relative to the cost of the product !!. Brokers will always have benefits but hte decision to use Broker (Grey Market) need to be made by experienced/educated decision makers not just the bottom of the run purchasing officer who does not understand the consequences of bad decisions !.
If you were in a helicopter that went down owing to a faulty counterfeit part, or the victim of a faulty counterfeit medical appliance, I'm sure you would see things differently. Sure, 2% doesn't sound like a lot to you... but it's a lot to the people it affects. And it's also just an estimate.
No mention of the DLA's Generalized Emulation of Microcircuits (GEM) program which can provide a form, fit, and function replacement for non-available microcircuits using current design and processing technologies? The GEM contract was awarded to SRI International (Cage Code / 03652), perhaps an oversight ?
With regard to "Some companies are working on developing sophisticated identification technologies that can be included in the production of components, but these are also extremely costly." That's hogwash. The DLA recently Mandated the use of botanical DNA marking for high risk chips. It works and it is not "extremely costly".
All in all, a very self-serving article if you ask me.
"...it is estimated that 2 percent of all the semiconductors sold last year were counterfeit. That doesn’t sound too threatening.." Who with half a brain would think 2% counterfeit parts is not threatening?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.