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A Chip Off the Old Block?



By Christian Thornton, iNARTE Business Manager

A few months ago in this column, I mentioned that a shortage of semiconductor chips was putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the international supply chain and resulting in the potential for major production and quality bottlenecks for manufacturers of everything from cars to smartphones to increasingly web-connected home and office devices like refrigerators or security cameras. Like so many other issues businesses are facing today, much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Covid-19, which greatly amped up demand for personal electronics starting last year.

As the market for chips has gotten tighter, the problem of counterfeit supply has grown exponentially. Quite simply, bad actors simply have too much financial motivation to skirt the system and inject shoddy product into the supply chain. These chips can also have vulnerabilities that make the devices into which they are used particularly susceptible to cyberattacks. It’s a bad situation all around.

Fortunately, although this combination of circumstances is unfortunate and challenging, it is not insolvable. Right now, certifications are being developed to help suppliers prove that their chips are legitimate and to help OEMs feel confident that their chips, among other key electronic components, are what they are reputed to be. It’s a way to control what’s controllable and helps to eliminate a major point of concern for manufactures and end-users alike. We look forward to sharing details about these programs in the near future.

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