The "respectable suppliers" price the atmega 128a at about $4 per chip. However, on ebay you can find them at $1 or less. How is this possible?
I thought: surely they are fakes, but let me buy a couple and check. I did that several months ago and forgot about it, but today, I found one in a drawer and decided to test it. I haven't run an actual program yet, but it does have the expected signature (0x1e9702), and the flash can be programed and read back - I programmed some data at address 0x1F000, near the top of the flash to see if it was actually there, and it is.
The mere fact that the programmer can talk to the MCU means there is some kind of AVR there...
So, what gives? Are they semi-defective? Stolen?... What do you guys think?