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Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC? 
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Joined: Sat 01 Dec 2012, 01:50:23

Posts: 240
Location: Oregon, USA
Post Re: Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC?
I've dumped a few desoldered ROM chips, and the data matches up with the existing "good" dumps found online as well as matching byuu's database, so from that alone I'd say the address lines are correct, otherwise the data would be rearranged in the direct chip dumps vs the dumps done via the cart. It also means that the /OE and /CE pins are correct (though Nintendo seems to switch the two signals whenever they feel like it, but at least it's not a situation like with the GB driving /CE using the A15 signal).

Tue 14 Jan 2014, 01:46:55

Joined: Fri 10 Apr 2009, 15:00:08

Posts: 13668
Post Re: Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC?
> So yes, it's entirely possible to make a reproduction that looks exactly like the original, down to having a new run of MaskROMs and custom ASICs... but it's highly unlikely, and certainly not cost effective. Even the most valuable carts probably wouldn't be able to recoup the costs due to low quantity...

Exactly. It's not worth the effort today for carts you can sell for a few hundred each.

But let's say the trend continues, and NES/SNES cart prices continue to soar. Flintstones, Bubble Bobble 2, Earthbound are around $1000 each. Stadium Events is around $15000. So, fast forward 10-15 years, and say that there are now around 30 carts worth a minimum of $10000. If you faked some credibility through time, and sold one of each of these games to avoid suspicion, you'd rake in $300,000+. Now it may cost you $50,000 to get a Chinese fab to make these MaskROMs for you, but that's still a $250,000 profit. Five years salary for an average person here. Probably 10-20 years salary in China. Suddenly it becomes more conceivable that people will be attempting these high-end fakes. Won't be a guy in his basement, he won't have the capital to fund this. It'll be high-end criminals, and they'll pay extensive attention to detail, much like those "super dollars" where organized crime groups were making US money that was only recognizable as fakes for being too good (better than we could do.)

Tue 14 Jan 2014, 05:49:21

Joined: Sat 16 Feb 2013, 07:04:31

Posts: 179
Location: Arizona
Post Re: Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC?
If they truly are indistinguishable from real carts (without an x-ray machine), then does it really matter that they are fake? </devils-advocate>

Tue 14 Jan 2014, 06:14:14
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Joined: Mon 20 Apr 2009, 08:11:50

Posts: 5266
Location: 日本
Post Re: Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC?
Is this a matter of principle or are you actually worried about the memory map being screwed up somehow?

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Tue 14 Jan 2014, 06:17:49
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Joined: Sat 01 Dec 2012, 01:50:23

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Location: Oregon, USA
Post Re: Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC?
jessedog3 wrote:
If they truly are indistinguishable from real carts (without an x-ray machine), then does it really matter that they are fake? </devils-advocate>

Yes, because these games have almost no intrinsic worth. It's a PCB with a couple of pretty run-of-the-mill chips (in terms of functionality). The value is entirely in the rarity and age. If a worst-case high-end fake were to be made, not only would it rob the buyer of their large sum of money, it would also negatively affect the value of the legitimate copies still in existence unless there ended up being a way of verifying their authenticity (which we currently have for the current level of technology used in reproductions). It's like famous artwork. It's one thing to purchase a reproduction because you want to hang it in your hallway, it's entirely another thing to be talking about high-end forgeries being passed off as the real thing. Except (most) art has far more intrinsic value than your average SNES cart...

Tue 14 Jan 2014, 06:26:02
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Joined: Sat 01 Dec 2012, 01:50:23

Posts: 240
Location: Oregon, USA
Post Re: Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC?
byuu wrote:
But let's say the trend continues, and NES/SNES cart prices continue to soar. Flintstones, Bubble Bobble 2, Earthbound are around $1000 each. Stadium Events is around $15000. So, fast forward 10-15 years, and say that there are now around 30 carts worth a minimum of $10000. If you faked some credibility through time, and sold one of each of these games to avoid suspicion, you'd rake in $300,000+. Now it may cost you $50,000 to get a Chinese fab to make these MaskROMs for you, but that's still a $250,000 profit.

That's still a lot of capital to put all down on a single risky investment. They'd have to be 100% perfect to be worth it, and even then, you're limited in the quantity you could ever sell of any given game, knowing that only so many copies were ever actually made in the first place, and as soon as you're found out, the gig is up.

byuu wrote:
It'll be high-end criminals, and they'll pay extensive attention to detail, much like those "super dollars" where organized crime groups were making US money that was only recognizable as fakes for being too good (better than we could do.)

The same could be true here... repros that are "too good" could be a tip off as well. As I said before, this is a lot more like art forgery than counterfeiting at the level you're talking, because those high-end sales will be watched by a lot of people who are in the know, and so each and every sale would have to be handled with as much care as the manufacturing process itself. You can't just go and dump half a dozen mint-condition Stadium Events carts on Ebay...

The Chinese knockoff electronics market is an economy of scale, selling cheap parts for even cheaper by cutting corners and salvaging throwaways. Is it possible? Yes. Is it ever going to happen? I really don't think so. Retro game collection is too small of a niche market to make such a high-cost, high-risk forgery worth it, especially when there are other, easier ways to make a lot more money, legitimate or otherwise.

Tue 14 Jan 2014, 06:36:40

Joined: Thu 19 Nov 2009, 16:18:55

Posts: 1586
Post Re: Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC?
Once they reach a certain price (and perhaps that time has passed already for some games, based on the market for repros), it may be worth the trouble to fab known-fakes / reprints for maskroms and sell them as non-numismatic enthusiast copies (i.e., ones that won't die in ten years from bitrot). Even better if you redesign the cart shell a bit to make for easy battery replacement, etc.

At that point, you'll probably be most worried about copyright/trademark issues, so you might want to manufacture/sell them in locales that still have a concept of copyright expiry (read: not U.S.).

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Tue 14 Jan 2014, 20:17:30
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Joined: Fri 10 Apr 2009, 23:48:17

Posts: 1690
Location: 囧国
Post Re: Feasibility question: IC inside of another IC?
Just to point out, this is already all happening and has been going on for a decade. Kevtris used acetone to peel off the outer plastic and reveal what chips were being remarked as a bad batch of "SID" chips.

http://kevtris.org/Projects/sid/remarked_sids.html

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Sun 26 Jan 2014, 06:25:47
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