Police in Taiwan recently confiscated more than 1000 counterfeit Pentium and Pentium II processors. The five suspects who were arrested are alleged to have been "re-marking" (relabelling) Intel chips for more than five years.
Intel spokesperson Howard High says similar arrests of chip counterfeiters happen frequently. The counterfeiters buy slow Intel chips, label them as fast chips, and resell them for a premium.
According to High, nobody can reproduce the Pentium.
"It's so difficult to re-engineer, with 7.5 million transistors, and you need a $US1 billion factory to manufacture them," he said.
"So usually counterfeiters get the product and re-mark it for a higher-performance speed, and increase the clock speed so it runs at a higher performance, which means the reliability can go away.
"Or sometimes they just re-mark it at a higher speed but it still runs at the slower speed, and a lot of the people aren't very technical so they don't know."
While a lot of chip counterfeiting occurs in Taiwan, High says the parts eventually make it into systems all over the world. Intel distributes a utility called CPUID (available on Intel's Developers' Insight Web site at: developer. intel.com/design/perftool/cpuid/UTILITY.HTM/) that can identify the type of Intel microprocessor in your PC.