Intel wrestles with counterfeiting in China


— 1:28 AM on November 21, 2005

According to the People's Daily Online, Intel has denied the Chinese media's accusation that the CPU giant committed fraud, and has instead blamed unauthorized dealers for consumer problems in that country. There are some possibly translation-related errors in the story—at one point, it states that Intel has been accused of remarking uFCPGA chips as uFCPGA chips, and it humorously advises readers to contact the local AMD office if they have questions regarding the authenticity of their (presumably Intel) products—but the overall point and scenario come through clearly. Even if the absolute number of CPUs affected is small, Intel's Chinese division still has a significant number of obviously unhappy buyers.

This isn't the first time that Intel (or AMD, for that matter) has had problems with CPU counterfeiting, but it's an issue that largely faded from sight after Intel began clock-locking its chips. Apparently, such problems are still widespread in some areas; the People's Daily describes counterfeit CPUs that appear identical to real ones, including their packaging and seal of authenticity, while also describing the counterfeit efforts of computer manufacturers who buy older or used CPUs at cheaper prices and then clock them higher. It isn't 100% clear, however, if these are two mostly separate counterfeit campaigns, or if they're directly linked.

Intel will undoubtedly come down hard and fast on any manufacturer it catches selling counterfeit CPUs. The burgeoning Chinese market is simply too important a growth area to risk. Initial reputations, once forged, are extremely difficult to change, as we've seen repeatedly in the Intel vs. AMD war that's played out in the U.S. Cracking down on counterfeiters or scheming manufacturers could lead to higher system pricing, which might hurt Intel adoption in the short run—but in the longer term, it's the only way to go.

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