Chip maker AMD moved last week to allay reseller fears that its growing CPU market share was under threat from the recent discovery of re-marked chips in Western Australia.
While legitimate resellers don't see the problem as being major, they are quick to warn others that substitutes can and do appear from time to time and to be on guard.
Thus far the re-marking issue seems confined to a series of AMD Athlon 500MHz re-marked as 600, 650, 700 and 750MHz chips. Although there have been no confirmations of re-marked chips appearing outside WA, resellers should be wary of poorly labelled mid-range AMD processors with the serial numbers obscured or removed.
Merdad Shetab, managing director of Sydney retail chain Computer Interchange, an AMD reseller, is unconcerned by the emergence of dodgy chips, pointing out the importance of dealing only with recognised distributors.
"If resellers are buying from genuine distributors they can be confident of getting this kind of thing cleared up quickly," Shetab said.
"It comes down to who these resellers are buying their products from. We purchase all our CPUs through our recognised AMD distributor APD International, and if I found a problem I know the support would be there.
While AMD is in the process of officially notifying resellers, AMD business development manager Steven Fraser told ARN he is confident that immediate action on the small amount of remarked AMD processors detected in WA resulted in these being secured prior to dispersal into the retail channel.
"Due to the small amount of product involved in total, there is negligible risk to retail buyers," Fraser said.
WA reseller DMA, which was reportedly the first channel company to become aware of the re-marked chips, has confirmed it passed the suspect chips on to AMD.
DMA marketing manager Jim Lee reported AMD was now fully aware of the problem.
"We can't really comment, it's all in AMD's hands now. We passed on all our information, and they are conducting an investigation. We have an agreement that AMD will come back to us with a result in a few weeks, so we are waiting on their findings," Lee said.
AMD resellers are remaining fiercely loyal to the vendor and blaming the contamination on parallel importing and a failure to deal with AMD distributors. Many pointed out that they have not had any problems with AMD products in the past, and had not come across any of the re-marked chips.
"Failure rates on AMD products is zero - I've had no problems whatsoever. I have heard something about the re-marked chips, but they certainly aren't coming from AMD sealed boxes. None of my customers have come back to me at all," commented Richard Hallal, managing director of Melbourne-based distributor and assembler Australian Memory Distributors.
Hallal went on to offer some practical advice on warning signs resellers should be aware of. "Every time supply is tight, these things start to happen. You have to be worried if suddenly someone can offer you 500 units of a CPU that has been scarce elsewhere."