As Interpol raided numerous locations across Europe last week to smash a counterfeit chip ring, it has emerged that processor firms have introduced technology to prevent the practice of chip clocking.
More than 2,000 police officers raided sites in Belgium, France, Italy and Germany as part of an attempt to smash a Chinese counterfeiting cartel.
At the same time they issued warrants for 24 individuals and arrested several other members of a group alleged to be involved in the scam.
The Interpol investigation has lasted three years, but the incidence of counterfeiting had declined in any case, said Sukh Rayat, general manager of chip distributor Flashpoint. Most counterfeit chips were re-clocked, meaning that although they were sold to perform at 100MHz, they were remarked as running at 120MHz.
'We used to see AMD remarks last year, but everyone's tightened up on the processor side,' Rayat said.
'People lasered out the old markings and relasered new ones. But the chip companies are putting clock limiters into the chips. Intel and all the major processor firms are now doing that.'
That was confirmed by Roy Taylor, general manager of Vanguard UK. 'Intel's worked really hard. There are not only serial numbers on the processors, but they've put regulators into the chips too,' he said.
Taylor warned that criminals in the US had already worked round that scam by removing the regulators, which prevent upward clocking, from the microprocessors.
Alan Stanley, MD of Dane Elec, confirmed that the police raids in Europe, although they involved money laundering, were unrelated to the VAT fraud in France and Belgium (PC Dealer, 27 November).
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