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Graphics Crime Hardware

Fake NVIDIA Graphics Cards Show Up In Germany 76

An anonymous reader writes "Several fake NVIDIA cards — probably GeForce GT 440 — have had their BIOS reflashed to report themselves as GeForce GTX 660. They were sold under the brand "GTX660 4096MB Nvidia Bulk" but only deliver 1/4 of the speed of a real GTX 660. Investigations are ongoing into who did the reflashing, but several hundred of them have already been sold and are now being recalled."
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Fake NVIDIA Graphics Cards Show Up In Germany

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  • interesting case.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MeistaDieb ( 3647703 ) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @03:30AM (#47772415)
    The cards were all sold by the Distributor "Kosatec". Kosatec itself bought the cards directly from Point of View in the Netherlands (proof was given by invoices and transport packaging). The statement of Point of View is that they have not produced the cards... Could get real interesting :-D
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @03:57AM (#47772471) Homepage

      There's also the delivery company that could have switched them. I know for a fact not all delivery companies are to be trusted equally.
      Or, if either Kosatec or POV uses a company to handle their warehousing, a third company.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @06:10AM (#47772773) Journal
        It would be interesting for an intermediary to be involved since producing/obtaining correctly faked GPUs is a comparatively specialized task. Not rocket science, pick the cheapest Nvidia silicon that is close enough to not react horribly to drivers expecting the real thing, tamper with the identifying portions of the firmware, replace any packaging, stickers, or other labels; but it's hardly the old 'purchase thing from best buy, return brick in the box' scam.

        This doesn't mean that it isn't one of the intermediaries; but if it is they are working with considerably more sophistication than the 'fell off the truck' level of supply chain skimming.
        • For the packaging, make a deal with whoever cleans up at an assembly line for desktops. Plenty of PC vendors wind up with pallets of packaging to dispose of.

        • Not faked GPUs... (Score:5, Informative)

          by OmniGeek ( 72743 ) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @09:40AM (#47773585)

          I've read the Heise articles in the original German, and the GPUs were not faked; the cards were an older generation graphics card (~10% of the graphics throughput of the claimed item) with the video BIOS hacked to zero out the card manufacturer ID and the GPU type twiddled to fool the driver into thinking it was the newer card. According to the articles, NVidia is tracing the GPUs through the supply chain by their internal serial numbers.

          I would speculate that someone bought up a truckload of obsolete cards, reflashed the BIOS images, and relabeled them with plausible product ID labels. Could have been the Chinese manufacturer, could have been someone elsewhere in the pipeline.

          • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

            whose fucking bright idea was it to install the BIOS on a fucking EEPROM??
            What happened to hardcoding it?


            • Every BIOS in consumer hardware has been on EEPROM (or flash) for more than a decade, easily.

              Mask ROM is not worth the effort, except in very specific cases.

        • 3rd shift stuff from the Chinese manufacturer may of done this as well.

    • by geogob ( 569250 )

      It will get intestesting if it traces back to manufacturing. Lets hypothise a second that the production plant has problem reaching their production goals. It would be quite a nasty twist if they simply took the products of another production line which was working under its nominal rate and rebranded the products.

      If (and its a big IF) the deception occured at that level, it will raise an important question on the quality and authenticity of any other products comming out of those work and countries. So in

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If (and its a big IF) the deception occured at that level, it will raise an important question on the quality and authenticity of any other products comming out of those work and countries.

        It says nothing about the country. Sketchy businessmen exists everywhere.
        The only thing that says something about the state of the country is if law enforcement doesn't work and the people responsible gets away with it. That would tell us that the country is more interested in protecting its own citizens than business from other countries.
        Apart from the pirate bay case I can't really name any situation in a western country where law enforcement prioritized foreign businesses over local citizens.

      • You wouldn't even need to be having production issues. As with most vendors, Nvidia has a bunch of options for sale and the nicer ones cost more. Even if you have the capability to stuff boards with the nicer chips just as easily as the cheap ones, a bit of fraud will do wonders for your BoM costs.
      • or they just did a run off the books at night producing hooky product
        • Which has happened more than once in China. It does get shut down when discovered but there's so much manufacturing going on there that the problem will just pop up in another area.
  • by flowerp ( 512865 ) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @03:41AM (#47772433)

    I made a test order of one of these products for evaluating whether they are any good for mining. The 4 GB video RAM on the card and the supposed graphics chip on the card would have made a very good deal.

    But it became apparent immediately that this was an outdated Fermi gerneration chip, despite the card being recognized as a GTX 660 by the driver. The card ended up on my scrap heap because it was useless for my purpose (high power consumption and low performance)

    At the time I assumed it was some kind of OEM product (relabeling older chips under newer product names is very common in the GPU business). But the investigation of the c't magazine seem to indicate that there is some VBIOS tampering going on and that this is not happening with nVidia's blessing at all.

    I'll be following the story closely to see what the outcome of this clusterfuck will be.

    • by r1348 ( 2567295 ) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @04:20AM (#47772521)

      It's just some hacked electronics, not so uncommon. I bought a 32Gb mSDHC card a few months ago on Amazon, and I received a "32Gb mSDXC" card, complete with fake Samsung packaging, that on a better inspection turned out to be an old 2Gb mSD card with hacked firmware to show up as 32Gb to the host system. Of course any file transfer beyond the 2Gb limit was failing miserably.
      No biggie, I contacted Amazon and received a full refund, and the dealer was soon after banned from Amazon, apparently I wasn't the only one being scammed.

    • out of curiosity: what miner do you use?
      in my (limited) experience, Radon-based miner completely out-perfom GeForce at mining.

      • Nvidia for FP usage - ATI for integer, seriously !

        it's horses for courses

        if you want bitcoin mining now you have to use ASIC but previously the integer cores in the AMD units where the dog's dangleies

    • by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @06:41AM (#47772835)

      Indeed, this is nothing new. It takes all of 10 seconds to find fake video cards being sold on eBay. []

      The sellers will simultaneously lie and tell the truth to skirt the rules and not get banned. Not that eBay actually cares about counterfeit goods.

      Right now it's rebadging Fermi (400/500 series) generation parts as modern Kepler (600/700 series) parts. However it's an old scam, and if you go back a few years you can find G7x (7xxx series) cards that were being rebadged and sold as GT2xx cards [].

      The method of the scam hasn't changed: flash a hacked vBIOS to change the device ID so that it shows up as the desired card. And as long as sellers aren't prosecuted it will keep happening. There's just not much risk in this kind of fraud on the individual level. Though the scam in TFA is large enough that it's certainly going to attract more attention than the perps would like.

      • go look at aliexpress, 100x worse on that dump of a site
      • From the eBay page:

        It's a nvidia chipset if you think it's a fake one so please don't bid thank you

        Is this really definitive proof that it's a fake?

        • The RAM and the board connectors are proof. A real GTX 780 has 3GB of GDDR5, and no board ships with VGA. VGA is only found on low-end (or old) cards, so it's a dead giveaway.

          • Haha. Oh dear.

            Surely this sort of thing hurts eBay's image - aren't they motivated to stamp on this stuff?

        • Also, the stickers have the old logo on them, which was replaced years ago.

        • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

          DVI+HDMI connectors are a good indicator of a modern board, VGA? Who the fuck uses DSub15 any more??

    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      "I made a test order of one of these products for evaluating whether they are any good for mining."

      Anyone should know nVIDIA cards suck for mining. AMD cards are far faster at hashrates with scrypt.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    [Disclaimer: These performance results are from gpuboss, which I first heard of today when I searched for gpu comparisons.]

    6x better floating point performance (theoretical max GFLOPS)
    5.8x better 3DMark score
    5x difference in passmark score (4.8x better passmark direct compute score)
    4.2x higher Civ5 framerate (* this is a very poor metric)

    * Framerate is a VERY stupid comparison. 72.2 fps = 13.85 ms; 17.3 fps = 57.80 ms. Why it's stupid: we're not told how much CPU time was spent on the main thread (yet IO ti

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) < minus caffeine> on Thursday August 28, 2014 @05:26AM (#47772643) Homepage

    Back in the late 90's there was a serious issue with videocard's and their bios being reflashed to something else. Wish I had the magazines with the articles on it still, but it ended up being a rather large investigation. Happened with ati, nvidia, matrox cards quite a bit.

    There was also the massive, and I do mean massive counterfeiting of fake Intel and AMD cpus, the most common thing that was done was resilkscreening the cpu. They would turn around and take a cyrix, or lower end amd/intel cpu scrub off the designations, then reapply them, and sell them back on the market. You didn't know that they were fake until you plugged them into the motherboard and surprise that $600 intel cpu was a resilked el-crapo cyrix chip.

    In all these cases, the primary source for these were from SE-Asia, mainly Thailand, and Vietnam. It was so bad, that these things were showing up in legitimate supply chains from major distributors like Ingram Micro, Supercom, etc. Even the packaging was legit, serial numbers on the packages were legit, so it was a very well organized scam.

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      PIII "E"* series processors always annoyed the fuck out of me, every time I came across one I was like "Oh, here we fucking go again!" because that "E" guaranteed trouble.

      *"E" being early Coppermine stamps, not the Core series Pentiums.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I ran into this with RAID controller cards, way back in the day. The part numbers on the chips had apparently been scraped or burned off. The systems identified them as ATI, but the cards were such crap that the mounting plate was misattached and you couldn't make it fit in the system without filing and carefully remounting the card. The boss tried to say "oh, just bend it and force it, that'll put extra force to keep it in place". The customer was *ballistic*, and should have been ballistic, at the complet

    • I had to tell a ton of folks back in the day they got scammed out of hundreds thanks to fly by night sellers when it came to the first gen Socket A AMD chips for this reason, the scumbags figured out a drop of solder in the right spot would unlock the multipler and with a little hacking they could get even the lowest Duron to report itself as the high end Athlon so they would OC the shit out of it and sell the systems as the much more expensive top line Athlons. It got to the point that when somebody brough

    • by Zeorge ( 1954266 )
      I encountered this with sub-1MB computers with RAM. They'd basically do the same thing and make a 120 ns RAM chip 80 ns RAM chip. The difference for most, unless you were a total geek/nerd type, was negligible if even detectable on this low speed machines. In the DC area there were gabillions of little mom and pop style stores that would pop up in office parks and the many strip malls here. They would pawn these re-branded video cards, HDDs, CPU's etc. How they pulled it off I still don't exactly know how b
  • come on, this is 2014? with your own chips and your own firmware and a s**tload of OEMs ready to pull this kind of trick, they should have used signed firmwares. So if somebody tried flashing with a firmware mod, the chip would reject the firmware. signing key never leaves Nvidia premises This stuff is easy, as long as you design your own chips and your own firmware.
    • by Slayer ( 6656 )
      You have to tell them, that flashing firmware could be used for bypassing DRM, and they'd force push out signed firmware the minute after :-P
  • ATI's just declared war.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead