IDENTIFYING A FAKE SSD AND TRACKING ITS SOURCE
We would be remiss if we didn’t say that our background investigation into this matter wasn’t an education in itself. Quite frankly, it is entirely possible that the memory in this SSD is Micron NAND flash memory and we felt that this could be an important factor, however, identifying the markings of the TSOP (Thin Small Outline Packages) was our first priority. After all, that OCZ SSD grade laser etching couldn’t be missed even though it had been ‘blacktopped.
If we look at a typical module of OCZ branded memory, there are three key elements that enable us to distinguish that the memory in use is that of OCZ. These are the OCZ Laser branding, followed by the two bottom numbers which represent the Micron lot number and date printed by OCZ. Not only does the lot number enable us to dig just a bit further, but also, we can see this particular TSOP was printed on 30 Jun 2012.
In the case of our SSD, all of the product numbers and printing dates did not match. We were able to identify that the memory contained was Micron 25nm NAND flash memory that was obtained by OCZ, in wafer form, somewhere in the area of 17-28 August 2012. We know that the product was sold in wafer form as it would otherwise have ‘Micron’ etched on the face, rather than ‘OCZ’.
We were also able to get a picture that we think does a great job of displaying the differences between a real module and one covered with a black coating. We also believe that, even before the blacktop was applied, attempts were made to file or grind down the OCZ imprint.
We then contacted OCZ where it was confirmed that the NAND flash memory contained on the counterfeit SSD were most likely OCZ packages that had originated from Micron wafers and OCZ had done the packaging and branding themselves. There is always some level of fallout from wafer processing or during screening. There are those that meet the stringent requirements used in OCZ SSDs and those that do not, for whatever reason, are considered fallout. These fallout parts are then sold to the low cost spot market which is dominated by USB and removable media grade products.
We were informed that these memory modules most likely did not meet OCZ SSD specifications. External sources have confirmed the business practice of selling such to the low cost spot market as a normal practice as this memory may meet the needs of other devices where it wouldn’t for SSD use. We were also able to confirm that the memory was sold ‘as is’ with no blacktop whatsoever, so the blacktop and inclusion of Micron marketing would have been done by another in the chain between purchase and production.
As well, the batch of memory in question was not sold to HongWang International (HK) by OCZ and, in fact, OCZ has never done business with this company. This would then bring about the possibility that the TSOPs were altered, even before reaching HongWang and they believed they were purchasing Micron packages, just as KingFast believed in their purchase from Hong Wang.
The photograph above is the result of a closer look of the counterfeit drive through a C-SAM (C-mode scanning acoustic microscope). The C-SAM uses ultrasonic pulses of different frequencies to gain this image through non-destructive means. Pretty amazing we think…
Let’s take look at drive identification and a few more benchmark results that really stand out.