Counterfeit computer processors pop up every now and again, but they've become incredibly rare in recent years if you're buying from reputable retailers. And that's why news of a pair of fake AMD Kaveri APUs being sold on Amazon is so alarming, though you shouldn't let the news dissuade you from picking up an APU if one's sitting in your wish list.
Reports first surfaced on the Overclockers UK forum, where a member posted photos of a supposed AMD A8-7600 APU he'd purchased from Amazon. While the heat spreader on the top of the processor identified the chip as that model, the pin configuration was clearly not compatible with the FM2+ CPU socket, as it should have been if the chip was legitimate. (Check out the comparison below.) Extreme Tech reports that subsequent research identified the chip as actually being an Athlon 64 5200+ chip, which launched in early 2007.
At least two buyers have left negative feedback on the Amazon.co.uk page for the A8-7600 APU, claiming to have received chips with the wrong pins. On the plus side, Amazon support has apparently been quick to replace the fake chips, according to one of those reviews:
"The chip I received was not a A8-7600, at least the pin layout was incorrect. I saw another review that had same problem and the picture is exactly the same as the one supplied. Good thing is Amazon's excellent customer service, replacement is now on its way, hopefully this one will be correct.
If you have one of these and it does not the the FM2+ socket, then don't force it, just verify the pin layout."
Again, the pin configuration in the leftmost image above shows the legitimate Kaveri design.
We reached out to both AMD and Amazon for comment. Amazon's looking into the situation and we will update this article when we hear back from them.
AMD's James Prior provided PCWorld with the following statement, after prefacing it with a note that he can't comment on ongoing legal investigations:
"It is apparent that this isolated incident is not related in any way to AMDs manufacturing or packaging. AMD takes any reports of product tampering very seriously.
As part of our ongoing efforts to help ensure consumers and businesses are sold only genuine AMD processors, we thoroughly investigate these extremely rare incidents in an effort to determine the source of the altered products, and consider all available legal remedies - including both civil and criminal prosecution - against persons found to have engaged in fraudulent actions affecting AMD products...
We are working in close cooperation with Amazon and the local enforcement authorities to conclude this incident quickly and ensure that the rigorous quality and reliability standards that AMD is known for are maintained. In addition, while AMD already implements extensive security measures to ensure the authenticity of our products, we are currently evaluating further measures to implement additional security measures for maximum future support.
In this specific case I believe that Amazon's consumer protection policies correctly supported the customer, and AMD has engaged with the buyer to ensure their personal satisfaction in this unfortunate situation."
AMD also has a website that explains how to determine the legitimacy of its boxed processors.
The impact on you at home: Likely nil, unless the source of the sketchy processors continues to de-lid ancient processors and plop the branded heat spreaders of modern chips on them without being caught in some way. That seems highly unlikely with both Amazon and AMD on the case--chip makers crack down on counterfeit processors like the wrath of God. The current situation also appears to be isolated to the United Kingdom, and Amazon's replacing the bogus chips pronto.