Based on recent events, I thought it to be a good idea to write up a guide on spotting re-marked CPUs. This is due to the relatively high volume of “fake” XP 3200+s being sold on internet auctions and lesser known OEM sellers.
First, allow me to explain exactly what these “fakes” are. Generally they are XP 2500+s that have been modified to use a 200Mhz FSB. That effectively makes them a 3200+, since they both use the same core (Barton) and the same multiplier of 11. They both use a Vcore of 1.65v, and in fact, the only differences are that the 2500+ uses a 166Mhz FSB, while the 3200+ uses a 200Mhz FSB.
Note that all Barton cores are made on the same equipment at the same plant (in fact, all AMD cores are made there ATM) in Dresden, Germany, and it’s the packaging (fiberglass that the core is seated in) that determines the CPUs speed. Cores that test out higher get a higher PR (Performance Rating), those that test out lower get a lower PR. Note that many 2500+’s can do a 200Mhz FSB on stock Vcore, but this does not mean that all can. This is how most folks find out something is wrong, the chip may have problems running as a 3200+, causing them to start investigating.
Here is a picture of a “real” 3200+:
And here is one of a “fake” 3200+:
Can you spot the difference?
The L-12 bridges control the FSB speed, here is the L-12 area on the “real” one:
And here is the same area on the “fake” one:
On a “real” 200Mhz FSB chip, the L-12’s will all be completely virginal, and on the “fake” ones, the first one is cut. Now, sometimes the people modifying them will leave the L-12’s alone on the top of the chip, but connect the corresponding pins on the underside.
Also note the modification to the L-3 area, the L-3's control the multiplier, in this case, it wasn't a 2500+ originally.
One more thing to look for, look at the OPN sticker on the fake, notice the distorted looking font. It has been erased and prinded over the original stamped tag.
These “fakes” are sold as OEM, not retail, so AMD has no way of controlling them, nor are they covered by any AMD warranty. Thus it is highly recommended that if you are buying a 3200+, you buy a retail packed one. These are boxed by AMD, and are covered by a 3 year warranty.
If you have purchased a “fake” chip, you should contact the seller immediately, and you can also contact AMD’s Investigations Department.
Unfortunately, most of the time, there is little that can be done, as the chips tend to be sold off internet auctions or companies that are here today, gone tomorrow.
I hope that this will help some people recognize if they have been sold a “fake” chip, and help them get the ball rolling towards at least recouping their losses, if not getting a full replacement with a “real” 3200+.
I think it is important to understand that "fake" and/or remarked processors can occur with any processor model and manufacturer and not just the Athlon XP. Generally speaking, any processor is subject to remarking, however, Retail Box products are much less susceptible since the remarker would have to not only remark the processor, but all the packaging as well.