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Electronic manufacturing and consumers confront a rising tide of counterfeit electronics

15 min read

imgPhoto Collage: Laura Azran

  • A police raid on a suspected counterfeiter in China's Guangdong province turns up US $1.2 million in fake computer parts and documents--enough to produce not only complete servers and personal computers but also the packaging material, labels, and even the warranty cards to go with them. All the parts are neatly labeled with the logo of Compaq Computer Corp.
  • A capacitor electrolyte made from a stolen and defective formula finds its way into thousands of PC motherboards, causing the components to burst and leak and the computers to fail and eventually costing more than $100 million to rectify.
  • 8 Local authorities in Suffolk County, N.Y., seize counterfeit electrical safety outlets--used in bathrooms, kitchens, and garages to guard against electrical shock--bearing phony Underwriters Laboratories logos. The bogus parts had no ground-fault-interrupt circuitry, and had they been installed anywhere near water, the results could have been fatal.
  • Dozens of consumers worldwide are injured, or merely surprised, when their cellphones explode, the result of counterfeit batteries that short-circuit and suddenly overheat.

That the world is awash in fake goods comes as no surprise to anyone who's ever strolled the streets of a major city and seen a gauntlet of sidewalk hawkers selling knockoff clothes and pirated motion pictures. But in recent years a less visible but no less insidious component of the illicit global trade has taken off: the counterfeiting of electronics components and systems, from tiny resistors to entire routers.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Array of devices on a chip

This analog electrochemical memory (ECRAM) array provides a prototype for artificial synapses in AI training.

IBM research

How far away could an artificial brain be? Perhaps a very long way off still, but a working analogue to the essential element of the brain’s networks, the synapse, appears closer at hand now.

That’s because a device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.

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Learn How Global Configuration Management and IBM CLM Work Together

In this presentation we will build the case for component-based requirements management

2 min read

This is a sponsored article brought to you by 321 Gang.

To fully support Requirements Management (RM) best practices, a tool needs to support traceability, versioning, reuse, and Product Line Engineering (PLE). This is especially true when designing large complex systems or systems that follow standards and regulations. Most modern requirement tools do a decent job of capturing requirements and related metadata. Some tools also support rudimentary mechanisms for baselining and traceability capabilities (“linking” requirements). The earlier versions of IBM DOORS Next supported a rich configurable traceability and even a rudimentary form of reuse. DOORS Next became a complete solution for managing requirements a few years ago when IBM invented and implemented Global Configuration Management (GCM) as part of its Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM, formerly known as Collaborative Lifecycle Management or simply CLM) suite of integrated tools. On the surface, it seems that GCM just provides versioning capability, but it is so much more than that. GCM arms product/system development organizations with support for advanced requirement reuse, traceability that supports versioning, release management and variant management. It is also possible to manage collections of related Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Systems Engineering artifacts in a single configuration.

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