Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Tampered Athlons Hit Oz 174

Lucien Wells writes "I have some bad news to spoil your weekend -- it seems like fake Athlons have hit Australia, and at least one of TechWatch's readers has personally recieved a fake. More worrying is the fact that the reader only very recently purchased their Athlon." (Read more below.)

"This is some very bad news -- thanks to Tim for alerting us. Rather than paraphrase, I will just quote his email:

'Well it looks like they [fake Athlons] have hit Australia I just recieved my K700 from [an undisclosed source] in perth and have opened it up to put the cold plate on it and to my horror the cpu is a 650 ... the resistor has been changed and serial numbers do not match ...'

We managed to get some pictures of the Athlon in question, and all the pictures are posted, including a summary with each picture, and help for those interested in finding out if their CPU has been tampered with.

More details are available on our frontpage.

We are working on finding an easy way (ie, for 'general' consumption) for those possibly affected to test their processor, and any updates will be posted, again, on our main page :)

Kind Regards,
Lucien Wells.

Lucien Wells
Editor/Assistant Reviewer & HTML Developer,

The well-labeled pictures also serve as a primer to understanding the cryptic labels on the side of your processor. But as Lucien points out, checking this out will void your warranty.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tampered Athlons Hit Oz

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    couldn't you just check the L2 cache frequency on the athlon? Don't 650's have a 1/3 divider so a 650@700 would be at 233 and 700's have a 1/2 divider (=350mhz)? So you could easily (providing you can find out the l2 cache speed) figure out if you've got a overclocked athlon. Hmm... worth investigating maybe...
  • the warranty has nothing to do with it

    The warranty has everything to do with it.

    If you want to find out if you have a counterfeit CPU, you have to void your warranty. Sure, it may be counterfeit in which case voiding the warranty does not matter (since you can get a refund). But your CPU may very well not be counterfeit, in which case you have lost your warranty. You must of forgotten about this.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you want a slower system, yes, go with Intel. If you need a fast server, go with the Athlon. As far as reliability goes, my Athlon server as been up for 24x7 for 3 years now without going down once.

    (Aside to the technically clueful: shhhh! If this fool can't figure out that there isn't 3 years of reliability data for even the latest Intel processors, and that some bozo has made him switch his decision based upon reliability info that doesn't exist, let's play bounce-a-fool).

    I guess this is a troll, and I bit. Or more likely, just some Intel FUDster.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...just like Intel did a few years ago, for the exact same reason.

    The difference is that Intel still gets bashed on the HW review sites for "hating overclockers" or "jacking up the clock rate 50MHz but not letting us do it to our own chips", while AMD will be congratulated for protecting consumers from being sold remarked chips.

    Anyone want to take the bet?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you thought you were buying an A7700 but got a 650 instead, the seller is legally obligated to return the product for refund. the warranty has nothing to do with it
  • by Anonymous Coward
    An overclocked chip will look like the overclocked chip they are claiming it is. Overclock your AMD 650 to 700 and look again. It'll just say cpu MHz: 700.00, bogomips 700.xx whatever. cpuinfo is NOT a very good test. Remember, people put these things in and configure them to the stated speed they bought them as (or faster if they are overclocking). Essentially what they're going to end up doing is just overclocking the chips.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'll be truly glad when Slot1 and Slot A are off the scene, the cartridge packaging is too easy for counterfeiters to take advantage off, this is why Intel started clock locking the PII's, because they discovered the slot1 package is too easy taken advantage of, not previously a serious problem with socketed chips.

    I'm not saying this type of scam wont exist when Socket A and FC370 chips are prevalent, but a remarked socketed chip would probably stand out like a saw thumb.

    Also, there is another issue that has been around way before remarking, people buying complete computer systems that are overclocked without the knowledge of the purchaser. I can remember opening up the case of a friends 486 SX66 computer only to find a SX50 with the multiplier whacked up.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is another way suggested here [] but isn't very good unless you already know what the original AMD plastic cartridge back cover looks like.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is an example of what happens when all you care about is saving a buck. Such problems can be easily avoided by buying from trustworthy vendors who source all their products through legitimate channels. This is especially important to those who wish to overclock. As an AMD reseller, I buy all my cpu's from authorized distributors. In the unlikely event a customer bought an adulterated cpu there would be avenues of recovery for the customer.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The local level is where it is hardest to pass off counterfeit CPUs. The mom and pop joints are staffed by people who actually take the time to inspect every shipment they get in rather than scan it a la UPS. It is the bigger companies with large inventories and less ability for oversight who will see the most amount of countefeiting. You will be picking up your non-legit hardware over at Best Buy or CompUSA in the future (if you haven't already). You are correct when you say this is about the world economy, and that's the level at which the true pirating will (and does) occur.
  • There is no failure of subject/verb agreement in that sentence. The subject is "the reader", which is 3rd sing., and the verb is the past form "purchased", which is undifferentiated for person/number. So the subject and the verb agree.

    What we get here is failure of anaphoric agreement-- the plural genitive pronoun "their" does not agree in number with its antecedent, "the reader".

  • The cpu's in question are genuine AMD's altered to run at a higher clock speed than AMD sold them as.

    True, they are a rip-off but "fake" connotes counterfeit. While you could argue they are counterfeit _700Mhz_ chips they aren't fake Athlons.

    Look at it this way... If I add 2 zero's to a dollar bill, it's still a real dollar

    I don't think I need to add anything else, but at least you didn't say first post
  • I think Hrunting is missing the point of the post. Of course the average user doesn't care about overclocking and has less than no interest in microsoldering; they should be made aware of the potential problem of counterfeit chips and urged to patronize reliable retailers who provide a decent warranty, and that's the extent of what they need to have pointed out to them.

    But my interpretation of the original post is that the relevant information should be publicly available to those interested. Just as the average user doesn't know or care about motherboard jumpers, the semantics of the arguments of a Win32 command message, or the contents of /proc, it is nonetheless extremely useful and a Good Thing that this information is available to anyone who does care, for whatever reason.

    Obviously, the counterfeiters already know how to do it. I fail to see what harm there might be in providing the same knowledge to those who would use it to look for counterfeiting.


  • What I meant with obscurantism was the attitude of "Now that TechWatch unveiled this fraud everybody knows how to make. It should have been kept secret.", as it has been commented earlier.
  • WTF? News for Nerds? Fake AMD's?

    Shouldn't it be on Tom's?

    I read this, like, ten minutes ago on some other site. You suck.

    Oh yeah; if there was any software mentioned, that should be somewhere else other than here, too. :^)
  • But I'm not from Australia. Why do I care?
  • IIRC plastic is clear when it's made. It's little clear beads. (maybe the size of a couple grains of rice) The beads are then shipped to whoever is doing something with the plastic, where they are melted down and dyes mixed in if desired. Then the melted plastic is formed into useful stuff, like cartridges.

    So clear is probably cheaper until you consider not impurities but the shape. Look closely at an Imac. How many seams do you see where the plastic molds came together? How about the circles left by the injection process? With opaque plastic, this stuff is generally concealed on the inside of the object, where you don't see it. Very hard to do with transparent/translucent plastic.
  • It was in the CPUID string - 3x Core/Bus ratio. Sadly didn't contain the bus speed string, but we can't have everything.

  • fuckin cockbiter.


    We have cock-bite.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with smoking a bong while on the phone with anyone. I think the original poster was implying that CowboyNeal posesses a drug problem unlike any other. Just look at the photo of him on his website. Does that not look like the face of a man at the absolute peak of a 30 microdot acid trip?

    Come on, CowboyNeal, we know. It's ok!

    peace to the chipmunks, and most importantly, the w0rMs

  • Well, my guess is they could do transparent cases. (Heat dissapation is primarily through heat sinks, not the plastic.) However, it's probably irrelavent.

    Production has stopped on Athlon classics, and the new Athlons should be hitting the streets next month. All but the first few of those will be in socket packages, rather than these Slot A packages. So, as of next month, the big plastic case will be gone. (Their moving to sockets because the cache is moving on-die, so the Slot A package isn't needed any more.)


  • Shanep, thanks for replying to that. I wasn't going to take the energy to deconstruct his argument, but you did nicely - thank you.

    I sincerely doubt the poster believes what he was saying.. there's quite a few people (trolls?) on slashdot who seem to enjoy finding well-known people on slashdot and ripping on them - browse at -5 on any of Bruce Peren's, technos, or slashdot-terminal's posts for a few examples. It's not about whether I'm right or wrong, it's about a few juvenile pranksters trying to ruin slashdot by overwhelming the signal with noise. Unfortunately, it is in large part succeeding - people just get tired of putting up with juvenile behavior after awhile and move on. This is the main reason I haven't been responding to acinide stuff like this - there's just so much of it. :(

  • Yes, and I'm not saying AMD or Intel should go door to door telling customers every detail of their CPU, nor should they be forced to! What I would like to see, however, is an information repository for detecting such trickery in a format that an average computer user could make use of. The USPO (post office) has an online repository for so-called "pyramid" scams and other stuff, they even have an e-mail address and a hotline. Why should the computer industry be less diligent? Worse, why are these companies treating their customers as the enemy????
  • A thousand monkeys typing on a thousand keyboards

    That makes... mmm... let me see... about 10E17 hypothetical universe lifetimes to the first Mills & Boone novel. Shakespeare? Not a chance. (-:

  • I thought it would be a fun time to mention that the Motorola PowerPC 7500 (aka G4) chip uses 5 watts under typical use and 8 watts max.

    And /ME thought that it would be a fun time to mention that a nice fast ARM would suck a fraction of a watt...

    Actually, PowerPC is quite nice compared to these cumbersome Intelish 4004-derived mutants.

  • I do not listen big business that much because I am conscious of their agendas. It was local hw hacker hearsay. Not much better, but at least people were able to say "I do a lot, yet I would not" or "for me, it required conspiciously big power to be stable", in first person.

    However I would rather buy them than Intel, if just for all the /. propaganda. *sigh* seems I'll have to get the money for yet another test box.

  • I certainly do not want to.

    Uptime of current version of the server I'm planning is now 479 days - and last downtime was due to some Apache beta hassling with oldish fs. I'd just like you to convince me out of sheepish Intelliness, so that I could become ever more True a Sup3rK3wl Linux h4x0r (I'm afraid I'm even more serious than I try to appear, jolly gosh :P).

    As for the stupid +2, I only found out about that funny checkbox below later. Well, it's nice to notice... And I managed to get some informative responses as well, thanks for those.
  • If I inadvertently buy a stolen television set from a retailer, and the police seize it as stolen property, is it the retailer's fault? Shouldn't the retailer have an obligation to replace the television set or refund my money? A retailer should be required to take reasonable care in purchasing goods, to ensure that they are not stolen, counterfeit or remarked. If they buy chips off the back of a truck, they have nobody to blame but themselves.
  • "Are the margins between a 650 and a 700 so huge that it's worth spending the time to do the soldering and remarking the processor?"

    Probably. Not to long ago, I bought a K6-2 400 that was probably remarked. The metal top had apparently been ground down (unevenly) and re-stamped, plus the lettering on the ceramic borders of the chip had a little smooth oval around them, probably indicating that the original lettering had been ground off and redone.

    All grades of the K6-2 are considered low end now, so I imagine the price spread between it and whatever grade it started out as was pretty darn small.
  • Okay..hope this helps for all those who need to contact AMD corporate Investigations. Mind you this line may still be a direct line so have any pertinent information prepared to give to them.
    Last known contact was:
    Kathy Armesto
    Phone:(408) 749-5029
    FAX: (408) 749-4418

    Like i said..i think she's been replaced so expect someone else. Good luck.. I hate it when people think they can fool everyone.
  • the card is on my desk at work. My former Contact there was Kathy Armesto. i remember that. But i beleive she's been replaced. I'll post the info here on /. when i get back to work tomorrow.....
    They were VERY helpful. But make sure you have some legitimate questions and concerns before talking to them. Helps to keep the crap down to a min. I'll post the email addy and phone# tomorrow. Good Luck.

  • Just a comment to everyone who's praising the CPUID #'s on the PIII's... why would you honestly need a serialized Identification number (i.e. a number which is existant only for you) to determine the original clock of the unit? Use a stored register on the chip which contains the original fsb/multiplier settings, then make the bios a bit more sane (i.e. instead of "AMD Athlon 700 mhz" have it report "AMD Athlon 700 mhz clocked to 700mhz")
  • Ok, so instead of deciding ahead of time, they just use PROM in that id field and then burn in the value once they've tested it. Good enough?
  • You couldn't change it if you wanted to.

    He meant in his sig, not in the post :-)


  • Stealing a tool for injection moulding a case is 'free' most places :-)

    Once you've stolen your machine, you just need some moulds. You already have examples of exactly how you want the case to be, the moulds can't be too far behind.
  • Because Athlons are easier to remark. Just solder a resistor, and it's running faster. A Pentium III is very hard to change its multiplier.
  • Disclaimer: I used to work for Intel's server division, so I may be biased...

    Athlon processors draw massive amounts of power. I'm not positive how much heat they put out, but their 800MHz processor draws approx. 2.5 times as much power as a Pentium III 800MHz. That may be where the concern comes from. I know from my experience with Intel servers that they last years. I had one customer call in asking what server he should buy to replace his old one, which had been running non-stop (no reboots) for four years. He finally thought it was time to replace it.

    Obviously, AMD hasn't been making 'server' level processors that long, so we can't be sure how dependable their products are, but I would assume that they would last that long just fine...

  • The 'Katmai' 600MHz chip uses 37 watts. The 'Coppermine' 800MHz chip uses only 26 watts. (Okay, so it's more like 2 to 1 than 2.5 to 1...) You can find this information at Also, the link mentioned in another response shows the wattages of many x86 compatible processors. []

    Or didn't you wonder why you need an 'Athlon-certified' power supply?

  • As has been mentioned elsewhere, this is not fake CPUs but rather remarked CPUs. A fake CPU would mean that some other company has started up a fabrication facility (costing on the order of US $1,000,000,000) to manufacture fake Athlon processors. The only way someone could make money selling 'fake' Athlons would be if they could produce the processors cheaper than AMD. Very doubtful, since they would have to product MORE than AMD. Not to mention the fact that there are only 4 companies in the world with fabrication facilities that could produce Athlons. (Intel, Motorola, IBM, and, of course, AMD.)

    What is actually being done is called remarking. It means that someone has taken a slow speed processor (in this case, a 650MHz processor) and soldered a resistor onto it so it will think it is a 700MHz processor. Then they changed the markings on the chip (hence the term 'remarking') to make it look like it is supposed to be a 700MHz chip. This was a large problem with Intel chips back when the Pentiums were being made, which is why Intel instituted the dreaded 'multiplier lock'. This makes it EXTREMELY difficult to remark Pentium II and Pentium III chips. Unfortunately, AMD decided to make it fairly simple to remark their chips. This helps people who want to 'overclock' their chips on purpose, but it also helps people who want to cheat their customers out of money...

  • The newest Athlons must dissapate in excess of 80 watts. That's some hardcore heat.

    Well... Almost. The 1GHz Athlon draws 65 watts. That's bad enough.

  • If the buyer wants to void the warrantee and overclock his purchase that is fine. What is wrong is that he was sold an item that was not what was advertised.

    While the margins between 650s and 700s aren't that much, the margins between 500s and 700s is quite large. As the author stated in his article, AMD started using the 650 core in 500s near the end of their life cycle because it was easier/cheaper for them to do so than to produce 500mHz cores.

  • I second the vote for adding a CPUID field for what MHz the chip was designed to run at. Overclockers wouldn't care but it would prevent this from becoming yet another reason to get a good 'ol Intel chip instead.

    Unfortunately I don't think this can be made to work. Generally manufacturers use exactly the same silicon for a range of processor speed and only decide what to mark a given processor during testing. In other words 650MHz Athlons and 700MHz Athlons are probably the same chips; the 650MHz ones just couldn't pass testing at 700MHz.

    Of course this means that the speed of a processor is controlled by something not on the actual chip. No matter what it is that sets the speed, it's theoretically possible for the remarkers to change. On a slotted processor it's reasonably easy to open the package and change the speed. I would guess that socketed Athlons (and P3s for that matter) will be harder to remark.

  • Here [] are basic electrical specifications for a wide variety of x86 CPUs.

    For the record, I've never had any stability problems with my Athlon system (In fact, it seems like the most stable system I've ever had!), but I've only had it for a few months... Note that I do not play games on this system, but I have stressed the processor (and to a lesser degree the memory subsystem) quite thoroughly and for (fairly) long periods of time. The only advice I can offer is to pay close attention to the motherboard's strengths, power supply, and RAM when purchasing. Not all motherboards with the same chipset are created equal. Also, chipset specs don't tell the whole story.

  • It's no wonder that "Direct from Dell" is such a compelling sales pitch.

    Do you work for Dell or something? This reads like an ad.

  • I don't think there are any stability problems with the Athlon itself. The only trouble I've had with mine have been related to 3D games, and I'll get to that in a minute. :) As far as heat and stability of the chip itself, I'd give it 2 thumbs up. My 550 seems to run just fine in 30 degree+ weather. It was a full retail version so came with the AMD heatsink and cooling fan. Nothing special, but not bad either.

    Motherboards are an entirely different issue. I have an ASUS K7M. I don't think I'd recommend this, or any other AMD640 based board for a server. VIA and AMD are unfortunately not well known for making high quality chipsets. The issues that plagued Super Socket 7 seem to have carried over to early generation Athlon boards. Most of these problems are AGP related, so not much concern to a server, but one must ask if they screwed up AGP, what else did they screw up? Also, Intel traditionally makes at least one chipset which "optimizes" for server performance and provides better IO performance. For example the 430HX for Pentium class processors. No such "server" chipset exists for the Athlon to my knowledge, although its possible some motherboard companies are looking at building specialty motherboards with higher quality parts (voltage regulators etc.) to suit the server environment. I certainly hope so.

    I haven't heard much about the latest generation of KX133 based Athlon boards, but with any luck these have eliminated the bugs of the AMD640 chipset. I would recommend checking out the usual suspects of,, and dejanews to look for reports of instability with KX133 boards.

    If a tree falls in the forest, and kills a mime, does anyone care?

  • It's funny to note that this expected speed program works by examining the serial number burnt into the CPU.

    HEck, people thought the serial number was going to be used for nefarious deals, and invasion of privacy, blah blah blah blah blah.

    The serial number was designed for situations like this, to make sure you get what you pay for, and to allow Intel to take its giant thumb and push hard on distributors who are messing with the clock rating of the chips. (I'm pretty sure they know which chips go where.)
  • AMD have already stopped new Athlon wafer starts, so there's a limited quantity of Athlons in the pipeline, then there'll be a very limited quantity of slot-A thunderbirds (probably to be announced end of May). After that (sometime in June?), all of AMD's chips will be socket-A which are obviously tamper-proof.
  • Well, I don't like the idea of inferiour products being offered as name brand. I must say however x86 is
    a dino-technology and there are Alphas and other true 64bit technologies available. As far as i'm concerned, personal purchases will be true "Unix boxes". I do believe that the 686 is a Un*x worthy
    processor, but if your thing is just Unix/Linux, get an Alpha! (There are other good systems, but Alpha is your best Unix bet)


  • Fat Lenny pointed out that "the difference looks to be [only] US $30 retail. What a waste of effort for a few bucks!"

    Well, I don't know what the percentage difference is in Australia, but until the con artists are apprehended, we won't know exactly when these were made. When 700s first came out, the price difference was considerably higher than it is now. These could even have been marked 700 in anticipation of the chip at that speed's real release.

    So the worth of the fakery here might have been much higher when it was done, and in Australian dollars, than it is now in US dollars.

    I wanted to grab the actual numbers from, but it appears to be down right now. Maybe you'll have better luck by the time you read this.

  • How well can we get the guys who did this? Assuming that the company the user actually bought the CPU from is the culprit, then is it likely, you think, that it'll be as open/shut of a case as it seems? (well, I'm just basing that on the evidence apparent: the pics, etc.) If it's not actually the company that's doing it, but someone else along the corporate line between the user and the origin, then I wonder how easily the perpetrator will be found. I think this stinks, and I'd just like to know that something can be done..
  • Last sunday I bought myself in Oz a new computer with a athlon K7 700, case markings as follows:

    AMD K7700MTR51B A
    2300 16527543

    Not the A indicating a .18 micron core.

    This system has given me lots of trouble, Initially I could not get it through a red hat install without freezing (B**dy computers). After dumming down a bunch of settings (Its a k7V) mostly at random! (By this I mean turning of the cache and increasing RAM timmings) I managed to make it run long enough to install red hat.

    cat /proc/cpuinfo gives (among other things)

    model: 1
    flags: fpu, ume, pse, tsc, msr, 6, mce, cx8, sep, mtrr, pge, 14, cmov, fmov, fcmov, 22mmx, 30, 3dnow

    Looking at I am willing to bet that model = 1 means a .25 micron core? However the markings indicates a .18 micron core!

    Could this be a "fake" athlon? Comments anyone...
  • "It strikes me ironic that he's complaining about getting a pre-overclocked processor"

    Personally, I'd be furious. There most definitely is a difference in price (otherwise why were the changes made in the first place?), and it's not just money he's concerned with.

    If you're overclocking a processor, there's only so high you can go. With a 650 he's not going to clock it as high as a 700. It's probably already running hotter than it should. This guy wants reliability from this processor, NOT to be told someone's clocked it for him already.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    CPU Identifier [] identifies the CPU you are running (on x86 systems only). This can be useful in three ways: 1) identifying remarked CPUs, 2) getting detailed information about your processor, and 3) when combined with the info given by /proc/cpuinfo.
  • The Athlon 800 uses 43 Watts under typical use and 48 Watts maximum. I'd love to know where you're getting the information that PIII-800s use only 17.2 Watts? I can't find a datasheet on the 800, but the 600 seems to use 37 Watts under typical use, according to Intel datasheets.
  • Actually it's more like 1.65x the wattage. not 2x.
  • Fry's Electronics does the same thing, but (if you're lucky) they will put a little blue sticker on the box. If you ever shop at Frys, *never* buy something that has a return sticker, or has an ameteur shrinkwrap job.
  • by volsung ( 378 )
    Actinide is a series on the periodic table (elements 89-103). The word I believe Sig11 is looking for is asinine, meaning stupid or silly.
  • You will be picking up your non-legit hardware over at Best Buy or CompUSA in the future (if you haven't already).

    I don't know about CompUSA, but definatly at Beast Buy. Considering that defective returns end up back on the shelf, they can't be paying enough attention to counterfeits.

  • I am sorry, this is both offtopic and blaming AMD products, but this might affect my purchases.

    I have been told not to base a server on Athlon because of power consumption/heat/stability problems. How is it, can it claim 100% uptime for a few years (an intel-level server lifespan)?

    I had hoped to base the server on Athlon hardware but have been convinced otherwise :(
  • There are a lot of service providers and hardware suppliers who have heavily bet the farm on Intel, and therefore it is in their interest to slag AMD's products. As far as I'm aware, the Athlon has no problems as far as heat/power consumption that Intel's processors also do not have, and in fact, runs cooler.

  • Because people don't look for fake $1 bills as often as they do fake $20s
  • If you get a remarked CPU, you can discover that with the appropriate software tools. That should be sufficient, although opening it up to further show the fraud might be more convincing. If that "Mom and Pop" place still refuses a return on the clear case of fraud, then they should be run totally out of business.

    I don't have a problem with retailers that refuse to take back DEAD stuff because I understand how this stuff can become DEAD. OTOH, I've gotten DEAD stuff from 2 local dealers and they both took it back (motherboard in one case and RAM in another). I'm not even certain that I didn't zap them myself. I was glad they did swap out for me, but they could have just as easily told me I must have static zapped it.

    OTOH, if I get a clear case of fraud, I will EXPECT them to take it back (and to even follow up with their distribution source ... e.g. get their own money back on the junk).
  • Security by obscurantism is no security.

    The rationale for catridges was not security. Slot I catridges were introduced for the Pentium II, which had their L2 caches off die, because of the inability to keep the cache on die while keeping the costs low. Wrapping a catridge around the circuit board was simply for aesthetics and durability, so less people will break it by accident (similar to why console games have plastic casings wrapping their games). It was never designed to be a tamper-proof mechanism.

    Go get your free Palm V (25 referrals needed only!)

  • Reminds me of a recent situation with Apple.. some of their G4 500MHz chips only had 450MHz stamped on them. Apple's tech note on it said that the chips did not need to be replaced. I've heard a number of computer dealers have been telling people who complain that messing with their motherboard/heatsink voids their warrenty, so stop looking. Hehehe

    The other thing is that living in Perth, I can attest to how downright dishonest some of our computer dealers are. I wouldn't put it past some of them.

    Would have been interesting to see the chip before it got crushed :P
  • What you suggest would benefit people who bought systems that were overclocked with untouched processors, but the problem here is that the processor cartidge has been cracked so that the mobo thinks its getting a faster processor.
  • But as Lucien points out, checking this out will void your warranty.

    In otherwords, by opening this package (in order to determine its terms), you assent to being bound by whatever's contained therein. Hooray for shrinkwrap liscenses on hardware. At least there's no prohibition of reverse engineering....
  • This has happened to Compaq products recently here in the UK - although this hasn't been Compaq's fault. What's worrying is that dodgy kit was supplied by reputable authorised Compaq dealers. The kit appears to function at first, but then servers starting having crashes with unusual stop errors.

    It appears these Athlons work when installed, although there must be hundreds of Athlon users taking a second look at their processors right now.

  • It strikes me ironic that he's complaining about getting a pre-overclocked processor.
    Not really - if he was planning to overclock it to (say) 800, he will probably be annoyed to find he can't, as it has already been upped to reach 700, and without a cooling device (which probably means that in normal service it would have been more likely to fry than a "real" 700.....
  • To save everyone the time :

    Article Moved:

    Do to the HUGE response to this article, we have had to move it to a different server. We are currently making arrangements and will notify ASAP.

    Update: It is now available/mirrored @

    Kind Regards,
    Lucien Wells.

  • Well, on one hand that's true. But on the more practical side of things, I want to avoid retailers who are lacking either the scruples or the savy to get me the chip correctly marked. To a certain point, I don't care who did it, I just want to get what I pay for.
  • I doubt the shop that sold this chip to this guy realized they were selling a fake chip.


    While the vast majority of computer dealers are on the up and up, there are some very shady dealers out there. There are people that will buy hardware from anyone, without asking where the parts came from.

    I used to work for a major microprocessor manufacturer in customer/technical support working very closely with the customers/victims of these shady charecters. I've met slimy hardware dealers that wouldn't care if a processor was legitimate or not. They get your money with a warranty thatlasts as long as you are in the store. They explicitly sell kit "as is" with no warranty from them. If the part fails, go talk to the manufacturer. What, they won't help you because the processor is counterfit? That's a shame. Too bad that you bought it "as is" If you wanted a warranty, I could have sold you this boxed processor for 40% more. I can assure you that I had no idea that the part was remarked. I can provide you with all the informaiton that I have on where I purchased the chip from, if you want to press legal matters further. I assure you that I had no intent to defraud you or any other customer.

    To say that the vendor is ignorant in this matter is nieve at best, intentionally decitful in the worst.

    Do you own a small computer shop? If you do, I'm certain that you know how to purchase legetimite parts from authorized channels. I'm also equally certain that you know of at least one "grey market" vendor that can get you parts for a discount.

    I'll give you that clock / bus locking with substrate resistors is a stopgap measure at best. The only real wat to lock bus / clock speeds is to make microfuses in silicon, and blow the correct fuses in silicon during the test/burnin cycle of manufacturing. until this process becomes perfected (It's only a matter of time) fraud will be a fact of life in the computer industry.

    (Boy, do I have some nasty stories of remaking that i wish I could tell...)

  • Assuming that you have the ability to push your remarked processors out the door, you can make a not so small fortune producing remarked processors.

    All you need is a a some plastic molding equipment (to make new cases for the processor with the new speeds molded in just the right way), some soldering irons (to make the modifications to the PCB), a quality printer and stock (To make lookalike boxes), and a shrinkwrap machine.

    These things are not really bulky or have high power requirements, unlinke years past, where you had to have a laser to etch the ceramic of older processors. These types of operations can easily be done in a mobile home or on a boat. That truely gives a new defination for an offshore enterprise, no?

    That makes this type of operation very difficult to shut down completely.

  • Clueless moderator: I fail to see how the above post is insightful.

    In answer to the question, however, remarking an Athlon is far easier than modifying the equivilent coppermine. The Athlon multiplier settings (and how to change them) are actually well documented (see Tom's Hardware), and AMD even designed an overclocking system into the packaging (Gold Fingers).

    The intel p3, on the other hand, has no available documentation for changing the clock multiplier. In your dollar bill analogy, the effort required to make the correct changed would be stated as, "Why make counterfeit one dollar bills, if you could make four dollar bills?"

    Answer: It's not nearly as cost effective, and MUCH easier to spot. :)
  • Anyone else notice that the picture here [] looks like the sticker has been peeled off and replaced? I also cringe at the poor quality of resoldering the resistors in this [] one. EEEk!

    It's too bad that you can't find out for sure whether the processor is fake without voiding your warranty. Maybe AMD can help us out here and let us ask them about the serial numbers. I guess we should all expect tampering more often.

  • Thanks to TechWatch the people who did this now know that they need to use a better plastic, a sharper defined mold and better quality stickers. They'll spend a few bucks 'fixing' these issues and be back to ripping people off.

    I second the vote for adding a CPUID field for what MHz the chip was designed to run at. Overclockers wouldn't care but it would prevent this from becoming yet another reason to get a good 'ol Intel chip instead.

    There doesn't seem to be much in the world that people won't try to get away with. Too bad the people who did this are probably in some unidentifiable third world country.

    Think, these people had to spend a minimum of $100000 for a limited production run on the replacement casings and stickers. They had some financial backing, probably. Can you imagine their business plan: "We need money so we can pay for staff, tools and supplies so we can rip off optimistic people looking for bargain processors"...

    What a pain in the ass. Yet another sign that the world is coming to an end.
  • Actually, black for heat dissapation is not a new idea, when rebuilding my VW bus engine, the rebuild manual said I should leave the black paint on for that reason (They're air cooled and need all the help they can get staying cool.)

    Supposedly they make special coatings for this purpose, not your average Kryon-bomb can of black. If the chip manufacturers are using some kind of thermal dissapation material for their casings, it would probably make the chips less reliable than before to simply slap a cheap plastic jobber on there.

    (Of course the previous owner had already removed it, so I buffed it out real nice with a buffing tool. I also felt pretty stupid a few months later when it dropped a valve seat. Sigh. )
  • Anybody who runs intel can go download a program from their site which gives clock speed, and with the PIIIs the expected speed as well. Don't even have to run windows, there's a version that boots off a disk.
  • I run an Asus board, Athlon 700. Here's a couple ways to tell what you are running, without voiding the warranty:

    (1)If you have an ASUS board, you can run the PC Probe utility that came with the board. It will give you info like: (under the info tab, DMI Explorer...)

    Version: Athlon

    External Clock: 100Mhz

    Max Speed: 800Mhz

    Current Speed: 700Mhz

    (2) If you have a program like Intel LAN Desk, you can use the DMI Explorer to get the same information.

    (3) Machines such as Compaq's and HP's come with diagnostic utilities that also explore this information...

    This should match what you see on the case of the processor. If they don't match, or your clock frequency is running over 100Mhz, be suspicious!!

  • Um, no. I don't think that's what he was suggesting at all. What I think he was suggesting--and what seems to make sense to me--is that sometimes education is pointless. This case would be a prime example. For reasons mentioned above, I don't think education about overclocking would lead to any less exploitation. So while education may be a good defense against exploitation sometimes, it doesn't always work and isn't always going to accomplish something.
  • yup, it's pretty nifty, and can be found right here [].
  • Why not a Pentium III, since you could get more monedy from it. In otherwords, why make counterfit $1 bills, if you could make $20's? tcd004
  • what do they say, "imitation is the most sincere form of flattery" ?

    well, insincere as this is, if the pirates perceived enough market demand for amd chips (as inexpensive as they are, compared to intel) then I guess AMD chips are being considered more and more for end-user systems.

    so even though the fake cpus are a hassle to put up with, the good news is that AMD is becoming a more and more serious threat to intel and a real alternate choice for x86 style cpus.

    (ob consp theory: maybe intel is doing the fakes, trying to taint the good name of AMD?) [vbg]


  • Years back I wanted to upgrade from my Intel Pentium 120MHz to a K6 200MHz. I bought the CPU and ran it. It was so unstable and hot that I was forced to return it 2 days later and get a Pentium 200 (for 2x the price).

    A week later the store I got it from told me that the K6 I had purchased was a remarked K6 166MHz. Which explains the high heat and instability.

    I have seen everything from remarked P120s (marked to 133MHz) to K6's, and now apparently Althons.

    Some people seem to think that they won't get the wool pulled over their eyes because they will looks for all the little signs. Let me say that some of the remarkers out there can do as good a job as AMD and Intel on the cases and covers. You would swear that the K6 I had was real, but I saw with my own eyes the test software reporting that it was a 166MHz CPU. The only way to foil them is to read the speed from the CPU core.
  • The real problem is that the decision how to clock the CPU is made by the marketing department, not the engineering department. The difference between the chips which are clocked differently is really only one of quality. The good ones don't heat up as much at higher speeds. Wouldn't it be a funny coincidence if a foundry just happened to produce the same quantity of each quality that the marketing guys think they need?
    The real irony is that the chip makers suffer from the fact that their quality is too good, so they downgrade a lot of their production. The reason that it's so easy to fake chips is that they all come off the same assembly line. The measures to prevent overclocking are all cosmetic.
  • This utility tells you what the cpu's vendor, type, family, model and stepping number is. Although it might be able to help you tell if your cpu has been remarked(I doubt it though), it will *NOT* be able to determine what speed your cpu is supposed to run at. As far as athlons go, the only useful info that you can tell from the info in this util is wether or not you have a .18 micron or a .25 micron cpu. This page has good rundown how to decipher CPUID puke:
  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @01:24PM (#1086281) Homepage
    All the comments about karma whoring aside, really, Sig, that's an incredibly dumb idea. The public does not need to be educated about what overclocking is. The majority of the public does not need to know that overclocking takes place or how to do it. They just need to know that there are fake Athlon chips out there, and honestly, the 'public' doesn't need to know that either, it's the resellers who need to know. I doubt the shop that sold this chip to this guy realized they were selling a fake chip. The retailers need to run their chips through a test of some sort, some test that doesn't require that they actually boot up a computer with the chip, but maybe a simple electrical or physical test.

    Education may be the only defense against exploitation, but you have to be careful who you educate. Educating the public in this case would be futile because half of them wouldn't understand what you were talking about and the other half wouldn't care (not to mention the incredible resources necessary for 'educating the public'). It's better to educate the knowledgable public (ie. the ones selling the stuff) so they can provide good service and abide by the law (which is plenty sufficient, BTW).

    If everyone knew everything, that'd be great, but there's no chance that that will ever happen, so make sure you get the right people to know the right things.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @12:55PM (#1086282)
    It's ironic that manufacturers wishing to prevent overclocking and reselling of their chips take such drastic measures - PLL, multiplier-locking, etc, which only denies their customers access to the technology and enables criminals to use that ignorance to their advantage.

    I think the public needs to be educated about what overclocking is, how it works, and how to detect it. The industry needs to stop trying to prevent the dissemination of information if it wants to prevent widespread abuse. First, allow enthusiasts to change the clock settings. If they blow their chip up, fine - make it blow an EEPROM if you're worried about warranties should they wish to change the clock setting. Second, make it happen in software - like with the Asus "softmenu" boards.

    Education is the only defense against exploitation. The law is insufficient.

  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @01:15PM (#1086283)
    I don't think these will help you tell much beyond what stepping number of processor you have. Since 650 and 700 are probably produced on the same process (and the better quality ones are marked 700), it probably won't help.

  • I'm the inventory controller and technician and a local "Mom and pop" computer service center. It's my job to check in ALL the inventory that comes our way. It's also my responsibility to check for *good* hardware. About 5-6 months ago i recieved a K6-III 450 that was on order. There was no etching on the cpu cover plate. The specs we're merely penciled in!?!$ Well...after calling the vendor (who gave me an RMA number), i got a little pissed. I mean who would want to give their customers a bogus part! I wound up talking to Corporate Investigations at AMD. They were OUTSTANDING. What they did was: 1) replace my processor after hearing about the bogus one. (they said it was a "test-fab unit" that should have never been released to the public..) 2) Contacted the vendor we purchased it from. 3) Offered the vendor to replace ALL their bogus cpus
    with the real thing at no charge..IF they told AMD who was supplying to them. very nice if you ask me. Felt good too...ensuring that my customers and evyone elses got good solid product.
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @01:15PM (#1086285)
    I find my k7-600 cpu to run VERY cool.

    two usual issues in k7 setup:

    • good power supply (from amd's list)
    • good name-brand ram

    other than that, there should be no other issues for server use.


  • by jcampb12 ( 173079 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @01:58PM (#1086286) Homepage
    The site notes that the Athlon core was the .25 die size and 650 Mhz. Now AMD was selling these 650 cores underclocked at 500MHz, because it was cheaper than going back and making 500 Mhz cores. Pricewatch lists Athlon 500 at ~130, 650's at ~150-160, and 700's at ~190. I think that whoever did this bought Athlon 500's (with the 650 core), took 10 minutes of soldering to undo the underclocking by AMD and overclock it a little to 700, and instantly got over $60 profit per chip (probably more if they got the 500's in bulk). I don't think anyone would take the time to solder a 650 into a 700. Also, I would be very pissed because the guy wanted a 700 because of the .18 die size, which is more overclockable than the .25 of the 650 core.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 07, 2000 @12:58PM (#1086287)
    Am I reading this correctly?

    In order to determine if your Athlon is counterfeit, you have to void your warranty.

    Someone want to call up AMD and ask them how they suggest we then find out?
  • by XPulga ( 1242 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @02:01PM (#1086288) Homepage
    The first time I saw these cartridge-like CPUs (PII, PIII, Athlon) I found them strange.

    Now the problem with fakes shows up. Firstly, it have been said on top of this comment that "now everybody knows how to do it.". Security by obscurantism is no security.

    Now to the practical side: To what temperature does a non-overclocked Athlon's plastic case get ? Is it imperative that the case be black for thermal dissipation or could it be transparent so that people could peek at the core inside without voiding the warranty ? Not a translucent case like iMac but a truly glassy plastic.

    Not only it would be good to avoid frauds, would look nice too. :)

  • by jbarnett ( 127033 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @03:07PM (#1086289) Homepage

    damit I think they riped me off, when I opened my Althon box all I found was a fried egg and 2 strips of bacon. It actucally worked out well because I was hungry and the egg was sunny side up, Mmmm my favorite. Oddly even though, the bacon did clock in at 700Mhz without over heating, but now my dog is sniffing at my computer case...

    I should of notice when grease was driping from the bottom of the box, and another thing, how the hell can you have a good breakfast without hot grits? What are these people thinking.

    Atleast Intel gives you free coffee refills

  • by milliyear ( 132102 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @03:52PM (#1086290)
    My experience comes from messing with recycling plastic on a hobbyist level - remolding plastic soda bottles and the like. It can be done very cheaply - see description for this book [].

    The description of the case - brittle, shinier than the original - sounds like plastic that has been remolded. I propose that the counterfeiters might be just remolding the original cases. Any plastics engineers want to comment?
  • by Frac ( 27516 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @01:15PM (#1086291)
    No one is stamping out bogus Athlons in some secret chip fab in Mexico. Those Athlon CPUs are actually remarked CPUs that are overclocked past their actual make. For example, some evil retailer remarks their Athlon 550 to a Athlon 700 will make a hefty sum.

    I wish they actually disclosed the name of the retailer. Such retailers hurt customers AND AMD, and their names should be widely known and disclosed.

    Go get your free Palm V (25 referrals needed only!)

  • by fremen ( 33537 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @01:10PM (#1086292)
    AMD has several useful utilities to determine information about your Athlon. You can find them at the following URL: []

    Among the programs listed here are things to measure the clock speed, find the CPUID, and other information. Binary and sources are available.

    I have no clue how useful this would be in these cases, but it's certainly worth looking at.
  • by Asmordean ( 162185 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @01:15PM (#1086293)
    What I really wish would happen would be for BIOS manufactures and CPU manufactures to get together and make the BIOS display both the real CPU speed and what it is currently running at in large letters during POST. If it was overclocked it could even display a message stating that in a very clear way (text that fills the whole screen saying "Warning: Processor overclocked"

    People who overclock wouldn't be hurt because the banner would be there only for 5 or 6 seconds and would remove Intel's excuse so maybe they would stop locking the clock (yeah right.)

    Normal people would freak out if they put thier new 750Mhz Duron in thier motherboard and see such a message.

    I am sure that some remakers would get around this by hacking the BIOS, but it would stop people from getting remarked CPU upgrades. Also if someone happend to flash thier BIOS in the future after buying a new PC, they would be informed of the trickery then.

    As far as software, could H. Oda's CPUID program be used to verify what exactly you have in your system. It tells me I have a Celeron 300a running at 450MHz. Maybe it is different with AMD CPUs.
  • by FullaDumbAnswers ( 172686 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @03:58PM (#1086294) Homepage
    Wouldn't a clear plastic case make amaturish tampering like the one described here less easy to hide? Is AMD listening? As long as the case is solid black, bums can stick anything they want inside and expect the "warantee void if opened" sticker to keep their secret for a long while.

    AMD should consider burning the rated CPU speed into a custom instruction too. All CPU vendors should have started doing that a long time ago. (Intel got burned by folks scratching off the real speed and painting on a higher one a few years ago.)


    ... paka chubaka

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears