Identifying fake Atmel Microcontrollers

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I've seen that Atmega128 microcontroller price is $5-$6. But in some other online stores they are selling for $1. I have contacted them they are saying "We are wholesalers". How can I identify the fake chips? Is it possible to clone a Microcontroller?

Thank you.

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Yes, Fake/Couterfeit electronic components - including microcontrollers - is a BIG Problem.

 

Always remember the saying: If something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

 

Apart from being fake, other reasons why genuine chips might be sold cheaply include:

 

  • They are genuine, bona fide surplus
  • They have been used
  • They are "scrap"
  • They are stolen
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Another real possibility:

 

They are not atmega128 chips - just some chips they had lying around in the same package and 'uncle' gets his laser engraver and marks them as atmega128.

Just like the MN3002 bucket brigade chips a friend got cheap from China - nothing like what they were supposed to be. But they got your money.

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bysk wrote:
I've seen that Atmega128 microcontroller price is $5-$6. But in some other online stores they are selling for $1. I have contacted them they are saying "We are wholesalers". How can I identify the fake chips? Is it possible to clone a Microcontroller? Thank you.

 

I once wondered about that myself, we discussed it a bit: http://www.avrfreaks.net/forum/h...

 

What I can say is that I have a couple of them and they do work fine. So they are not copper slugs like these: https://www.sparkfun.com/news/350

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bysk wrote:
I've seen that Atmega128 microcontroller price is $5-$6. But in some other online stores they are selling for $1.
Digi-Key has mega128A at about 3USD for one :

https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/ATMEGA128A-MUR/1611-ATMEGA128A-MURCT-ND/6831914

via https://octopart.com/search?q=ATmega128A&avg_avail=(1__*)&start=0

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Note minimum quantities, too.  There's a big difference between buying one of something and ten thousand of something - Even Digikey will save you a buck or two per chip in quantities of only a hundred or so.

 

The cheap one's non-stock, according to Digikey, but they have some.  That's probably legitimate 'surplus'.  It's $3.36 for one, but cost each is only $2.79 if you buy a hundred at once.  The quantity discounts are better on more generic stuff like caps and resistors and things.

 

Think I'll echo Nathan at Sparkfun's advice too:  Deal with suppliers you know, and if they send you a brick, don't deal with them ever again.  Actually detecting a counterfeit and finding out what it actually is is a bit beyond the scope of a typical electronics person (or even a well-equipped lab).  Note they used highly specialized gear and knowledge from not only Atmel, but also ON Semi.

 

S.