Faked CPUs

On my latest search for CPUs on the junk yard I was lucky enough to find a very rare processor, which I  didn't know that it even existed!
I found a Pentium with 200MHz in a ceramic case without MMX.
The part number was:  A80502-200 SU046.

While searching for information on this CPU to add it to my database I found out that there was no data or  spec code available on
this processor.
That really was strange and I wanted to take a closer look at the CPU under the microscope.  Doing so I discovered the
following inconsistencies:

1) the engraved black writing looks quite different than on other processors.

2) the ceramics appeared to be a lot rougher - especially around the edges of the chip.


engraved writing on an
original Intel Pentium
engraved writing on fake CPU edge view of original
Intel Pentium
edge view of fake

So I tried to scratch the surface with a cutter and succeeded, which should not have been possible,
since ceramics are harder than steel.

I did more research on the internet and found out that there had been a major fraud with processors in the
mid 90s in Europe.
Over several years the European PC market was flooded with falsified Intel processors. Over years there
seemed to be no chance to catch the scammers until 1996. Then the police managed to track down an
international gang, who were then accused of tax and customs fraud along with money laundering and
falsification of computer components at a large volume.

At 09:00 on the 26th of November 1996 30 officers occupied all offices and phones. 5 officers along with an
Intel employee searched the storage rooms and investigated the Pentium processors. Even the Intel guys
had a hard time finding out the fakes as they were perfectly done.
This mission - codenamed 'Goldfish' - was a huge success. 2000 police officers in 10 countries raided
400 offices and apartments in Germany and in the south and west of Europe. 12 people were being
arrested and the officers confiscated tons of files, computers and fake processors.

The majority of the fakes were re-labeled Pentium-133 to 166MHz and Pentium 166 to Pentium 200MHz.
The chips had been bought in Europe and exported to Hong Kong and Taiwan - mostly on a legal way -
taking advantage of the VAT refund. The re-labeled Pentiums were smuggled back to Europe to be sold
at around 200USD above their actual value. Those were transported by couriers carrying around
100 processors in their bags.

source: C'T Magazine

Next thing I tried was to work on the surface of the fake processor. It was no problem to remove the upper
layer, which had been applied by the fakers. Removing this layer revealed the processor to be a regular
Pentium with 166MHz.
I have to admit that those fakes have been re-worked in a quite professional way, so that they actually
confused a pro like me in the first place.

In any case - it's been a very exiting experience to get hold of such a piece of criminal history and discover
its background :-)

1st try with cutter
under microscope.
1st layer (fake) could
be removed easily ...
..there you go!
The real 166 MHz
A very nice piece of history
for my collection.