Russian Newspaper Reports 40% Failure Rate for Chinese Microchips

The flags of China and Russia
(Image credit: Skopp (China), public domain (Russia))

Russian tech firms have noticed something strange about shipments of chips they’ve been receiving from Chinese manufacturers. According to a story in Kommersant (opens in new tab), a Russian daily newspaper devoted to politics and business, translated and reported by The Register (opens in new tab), up to 40% of the Chinese chips are turning out to be defective.

Vladimir Putin with Alisher Usmanov in 2018

(Image credit: Office of the President of the Russian Federation, www.kremlin.ru)

This represents a 1,900% increase in the failure rate, and while we couldn’t possibly suggest the two things are linked, Kommersant notes that before the invasion of Ukraine, the dud rate stood at 2%. The newspaper, which is privately owned by pro-Putin billionaire Alisher Usmanov (above) and released its first issue in January 1990, quotes an anonymous source in its story, laying the blame on both the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic sanctions more recently imposed on Russia for hurting its supply chains and forcing it to import gray-market semiconductors in the first place.

Given that many modern devices -- and, just as importantly, items of military hardware -- require many different semiconductor products, even a failure rate of 2% is bad. Having 40% of chips delivered in a non-functional state means it’s basically impossible to make anything without wasting significant time and effort testing everything first.

Kommersant -- which means The Businessman -- claims that sanctions have led to major import businesses abandoning Russia, leaving manufacturers there with no choice but to use unauthorized suppliers whose customer service perhaps leaves something to be desired compared to official channels. The Russian firms also have a lack of experience in checking out both suppliers and products before placing a large order.

February this year saw Russian premier Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping declare their countries had a ‘friendship without limits’ with ‘no forbidden areas’ for cooperation. Beijing has, however, made it clear (opens in new tab) (using extremely diplomatic language) that it disapproves of Russian hostilities toward Ukraine, calling on Putin to pursue negotiations and abstaining from a UN resolution condemning the attack rather than voting against it.

The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade told Kommersant that it had not received any information about an increase in the proportion of defective components.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.

  • georgebaker437
    So I guess China isn't sending its substandard chips to landfills anymore. With allies like this, who needs enemies!
    Reply
  • gg83
    I just love to here this. But it won't be much longer for failure rates to drop to acceptable levels. I just read the feds are looking into cheap lithium batteries being sold as legit.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    georgebaker437 said:
    So I guess China isn't sending its substandard chips to landfills anymore. With allies like this, who needs enemies!
    If you have seen some of those reviews of oddball Chinese motherboards, second-hand chips and other components seems to be a significant business in China. I wouldn't be too surprised if many of those bad chips happen to be scavenged from e-waste.
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    40% failure rate - They are probably doing better than me when dealing with sketchy Chinese suppliers.

    I'd say I am closer to 50/50.
    Reply
  • Johnpombrio
    This "grey market" semiconductor shipments to Russia from China MAY be one of the root causes of the draconian US semiconductor sanctions against China. No one says as much, but the timing seems about right.
    Reply
  • PlaneInTheSky
    hopefully these chips have ended up in their nuclear missiles
    Reply
  • coromonadalix
    And they wont refund their crap ..... we paid a lot for defectives ic's from a china broker
    Reply
  • ottonis
    Seems someone ordered computer parts from wish dot com and is now disappointed by the quality.
    Reply
  • wr3zzz
    "Russia newspaper reports 40% failure rate of Chinese microchips" - Tomshardware headline
    "40% of Chinese semiconductor imported into Russia now fail" - actual headline

    BIG difference.

    It's a shame the Toms resorts to more truthiness than a Russian newspaper.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    wr3zzz said:
    "Russia newspaper reports 40% failure rate of Chinese microchips" - Tomshardware headline
    "40% of Chinese semiconductor imported into Russia now fail" - actual headline

    BIG difference.

    It's a shame the Toms resorts to more truthiness than a Russian newspaper.
    Lol. The original headline can be interpreted very differently indeed.
    Reply