Grey market processors

One of our customers came to us with a very interesting problem. They had purchased a large quantity of processors from a grey market supplier that was ultimately found to be located in China. They had searched desperately for these parts as they were no longer in production.

They built several hundred control boards only to find that they did not work. Upon further investigation, it was obvious that the processors were running and trying to do something but ultimately the boards did not work.

The customer contacted us to see if we could help. We received several new control boards and started to examine them.

Mislabeled Processor

It was apparent that the processors were running and trying to execute the code but were crashing.

As we began to debug the boards it started to look like these were not the correct processors.

We double checked the part numbers but it was evident that they were not the correct parts.

We began to write code that would work in different versions of the processor. After several iterations it was clear that these parts were mislabeled. We contacted the supplier and they promised us that these were original parts from the factory. After we presented our case they relented and admitted that the parts were from China. They did not appear to be knockoffs but they were either mislabeled, or relabeled.

Once we determined what parts they actually were, we were able to rewrite some sections of the software and make some small changes to the boards to get them running again.

Our customer was very grateful, not only did we salvage the boards that they had made, but also kept them going as they were not able to find any of the correct processors.

Written out this sounds like a small project, but we pulled out a lot of hair trying to figure out why these boards would not work.