In December 2011, President Barack Obama signed the fiscal year 2012 US National Defense Authorization Act. The budget bill also encourages the implementation of procedures to mitigate the possibility of obtaining counterfeit components by making members of all tiers of the defense supply chain accountable. The meaning of the term counterfeit in this context includes fake, substandard, damaged, or mismarked components.
In the fall of 2011, for the first time in history, U.S. Federal Courts prosecuted an individual for trafficking in counterfeit integrated circuits, many of which were targeted for the U.S. military. Others were to be used in brake systems in high-speed trains and instruments used by firefighters to detect nuclear radiation. The administrator of the company that sold the components was sentenced to 38 months in prison and assessed fines of $166,141 for selling almost $16 million worth of semiconductors falsely marked as military, commercial or industrial grade.
As progressive as all of this news seems to be in the fight against counterfeit semiconductors making their way into the US supply chain, it is just the beginning. In fact, it is estimated that 2 percent of all the semiconductors sold last year were counterfeit. That doesn’t sound too threatening until we do the math: the estimated value of counterfeit parts that made their way into the U.S. supply chain in 2011 is over $5 billion.
Not only do counterfeit components threaten lives, they impose a vast negative financial impact to semiconductor manufacturers, distributors, electronics equipment manufacturers and end users. It is estimated that the actual cost of a failed semiconductor that makes its way into production – in any industry – can be more than 100 times the cost of the original component. That makes the bargain price – often 70 percent less than the “real thing” – look less and less attractive. No matter how hard the industry tries, it can’t get around that old adage: you get what you pay for.
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.