What you see in the picture are two chips that look the same. But are we sure? Let’s find out together.
If we were to do a thorough check, we would say that the two chips are siblings, children of the same production. But if we were to check them more carefully and not superficially, we would see a significant difference: the yellow rectangle in the bottom right-hand corner. A detail of the chip’s originality that is rather difficult to spot.
The semiconductor shortage has been raging since the beginning of the year, which has encouraged a huge influx of fake and counterfeit electronic components.
These bad actors are finding a goldmine in smaller companies that are particularly hungry for parts as they don’t have the clout of a large-scale operation and without many of the direct links that larger companies may have with chipmakers.
How do these bad actors work?
The counterfeiters speculate that the world’s producers of these integrated circuits (the chips) are struggling to cope with the demand from the electronics industry, partly because of the pandemic.
The Wall Street Journal writes that counterfeiters buy advertisements on search engines. Ads that link directly to their bait sites. Other times, however, the fraudsters show up on Chinese e-commerce platforms. Some US companies, desperate for chips, tried to buy them. The bitter surprise was that the chips arrived – for instance –in simple plastic bags.
These sellers do not use the anti-static wrappers – similar to silver paper – that are needed to protect such delicate electronic devices. In the end, a significant number of these chips – produced in some way, sent without the necessary precautions – did not work.
In this climate, reputable companies – who search the market for perfect chips for resale to electronics companies – are producing guides to safe purchasing. These guides help to identify illegal sellers and to distinguish genuine chips from counterfeit ones. One of the most sought-after guides bears the signature of the US association Idea (The Independent Distributors of Electronics Association).
…Springboard for companies testing chip authenticity and functionality
The British company Princeps Electronics Ltd., for example, carries out electronic tests on the tightness of chips. In just one year, it quadrupled the number of requests from comparators for advice and verification.
Californian company Creative Electron Inc., which sells sophisticated X-ray machines, is also doing well. TruWievs are able to examine every tiny component of the chip for imperfections in their construction.
Where can you turn for a safe source of electronic components?
You have probably dealt with a large number of suppliers, who have offered you rates and products, shipping costs and delivery times that are not always convenient or 100% guaranteed.
That’s why it’s a good idea to turn toindependent distributors, who are able to navigate their way through an ever-changing market of hard-to-find components and conditions that are as advantageous as possible for you.
Turning to independent distributors to purchase the STM32 family or the FDMC66 family saves you time and avoids a few nasty surprises. How? In general, when you buy independently, directly from suppliers, you need to make sure that the products are actually valid and you do this by following a few steps:
1. checking the presence of any reviews or references left by customers
2. analysing the photos provided, starting with the packaging
3. examine the labels associated with the packaging and the images of the goods
4. study of reports
All this takes up a lot of valuable time that you could be spending on other things. That’s why an independent distributor may be the right choice for you! They are also in charge of verifying product traceability, which is becoming increasingly difficult to analyse. Why? In some cases, the barcodes on the labels of origin are being removed, perhaps because they could embarrass the supplier of the component. Independent distributors only work with products that have a guarantee and whose exact origin can be established.
For a more detailed report on the type of tests to be carried out on your electronic components click here!
We propose a point of reflection: Do you always have the possibility to trace the origin of your electronic components?
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