Intel to combat chip robberies

SILICON chips have become the target of big-league crime, with a wave of highly organised robberies in the computer world and the development of a sophisticated black market to fence stolen products.

This week Intel, the world's biggest manufacturer of silicon chips, is expected to announce a number of steps to combat the new crime wave, including the use of serial numbers.

At the moment chips are largely anonymous, making it difficult to identify a stolen batch. Intel and other leading manufacturers have been looking for ways to combat the threat.

Specialists believe, however, that even if all chips were to be coded, the threat would still be potent.

The most powerful chips often fetch prices on the black market worth more than their weight in gold or platinum, making them a highly attractive target for armed robbers. A carrier bag of chips can be worth millions of pounds.

Some months ago Datrontech, the UK chip memory supplier, had one of its delivery vans hijacked in a multi- million-pound robbery. In a raid on an Italian personal computer manufacturer, 10 men got away with more than pounds 4m worth of chips. And in the heart of California's Silicon Valley, Wyle Laboratories, a company closely associated with Intel, also suffered an armed raid.

The robberies are now so big that they often affect the market for the chips. The price rose by more than a tenth after five armed men tied up five workers at a factory in Oregon owned by OKI, one of the world's largest manufacturers of printers and fax machines, and stole more than pounds 1m worth of dynamic random access memory chips.

The black market flourishes thanks to a shortage of some advanced chips, such as the latest versions of Intel's 486 and its even rarer pentium chips.

The problem is compounded as manufacturers tend to deal directly with only a handful of large PC manufacturers, such as Compaq, Dell, ICL and IBM. Smaller manufacturers have to source their chips through distributors - which themselves are becoming the target of thieves.

The manufacturers hope users will shun stolen chips once they are identified as such. However, some experts are sceptical. In Britain alone there are hundreds of small manufacturers of clones of IBM PCs that may be prepared to risk buying stolen goods in the belief that buyers will never open their computers.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam