Re-marked AMD chips have surfaced in Sydney at a time when debate is still raging in the channel over the source of re-marked AMD CPUs which first appeared in Western Australia in May.
Ngat Doan, managing director of AMD's official distributor APD International, has confirmed that re-marked AMD chips had recently surfaced in Sydney, however he insists that only a very small number have appeared.
The situation was verified by at least three Sydney-based end users in contact with ARN. One private customer, Victor Des, said he purchased what he thought was a 700MHz AMD chip from a local reseller in June. But after becoming suspicious and testing the chip, he discovered it was in fact a 500MHz unit. He contacted AMD by e-mail but was unable to secure a replacement chip and later approached APD and had it replaced for a genuine unit.
The news contradicts an official AMD statement issued after the first outbreak in May, which claimed the problem was confined to Western Australia.
Re-marked and tampered chips allow the importer or wholesaler in question to charge resellers around $400 more for a faster CPU.
Doan blames the existence of remarked AMD chips on parallel imports and the grey market. "Who knows who the wholesalers and resellers are getting these things from," commented Doan. "They could be importing them from anywhere. There is no way that any of them could have bought re-marked AMD chips from APD International."
"APD's stocks are 100 per cent genuine," he continued. "When people come to me with dodgy chips I replace them, but they are not getting them from APD. I want to find out who is doing this, and we are cooperating with AMD in every way to get this thing cleared up."
APD's position mirrors that of AMD Australia, which stated in May that the re-marked stock was not sourced from accredited AMD distributors. "Events of this type make it even more important that AMD products are sourced through accredited distributors. By doing this, customers are guaranteeing themselves of total post-sales support from AMD," the company said in a press release.
When contacted regarding this story, AMD business development manager Steven Fraser refused to add anything to the two month-old statement, which said: "AMD is declining to comment further, pending the results of ongoing investigation into the Western Australian incident."
The situation has left some affected resellers angry over the implication they are involved with grey markets and parallel imports.
Perth-based retailer Navada and online reseller RTV Computers are concerned about what effect AMD and APD's position will have on the reputations of their businesses. Once a self-confessed AMD fan, RTV Computers managing director Robert Bollen is feeling disillusioned. "AMD is making it look like we are to blame, when we only bought through the official AMD channel," Bollen said.
"We sourced the chips from DMA in WA. When we realised there was a problem with some of them, we tried to contact AMD in Australia but they were not available. We went through AMD in the US and they seemed really helpful and concerned, then all of a sudden the communication stopped and AMD released the official statement saying that as far as they were concerned the faulty chips had not come through the official channel."
Navada Computers purchasing officer Mike Schultz said he believes the problem is more widespread than AMD is claiming. "If it was a small batch we must have ended up with every one of them," he said. "We received a batch from DMA that had clearly been tampered with. There were problems with the casing and the stickers didn't look right, but we obviously couldn't open them up without voiding the warranty so we returned them. Then we got another box, this time from Westan, which had also been tampered with. The people at DMA seemed to be aware of the situation and accepted the chips back, but Westan had no idea what was going on."
When contacted by ARN, both Westan and DMA confirmed they only bought AMD CPUs from APD International.
Robert Tang, Westan's administration manager, was adamant: "We only source our AMD CPUs from the official AMD distributor APD International," Tang said.
DMA marketing manager Jim Lee responded in a similar fashion: "We only purchase products through official vendor sources. We only ever purchased through APD International. And when we found problems we sent the chips straight back to them."
Perth-based Lee is convinced that the re-marked chips are no longer in circulation, and has not encountered any faulty chips in recent weeks. His concern is customers might take dramatic steps if they suspect anything. "We don't want people ripping open the casing and voiding their warranty. We are happy to exchange any chips that appear suspect."
Reports by independent news site www.insanehardware.com state that customers have purchased suspect AMD chips in every Australian state.
The site's editor, Jai Ketteridge, has followed the situation closely, offering detailed reports online and helping resellers and customers secure replacements for suspected re-marked chips.
"Regardless of what AMD says, re-marked chips came through official channels. We don't know how many came through but I have had reports from all over Australia saying that suspect chips have turned up," said Ketteridge.
"Whether or not they went out is not an issue anymore -- the source appears to have dried up. The main issue at the moment is trying to get replacements for end users who unwittingly bought faulty chips when they first appeared."
AMD is yet to announce the completion of its investigation into the WA incident and declined to comment any further.