Re: [tsvwg] Traffic protection as a hard requirement for NQB

Jonathan Morton <chromatix99@gmail.com> Wed, 11 September 2019 12:19 UTC

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From: Jonathan Morton <chromatix99@gmail.com>
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Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2019 15:18:55 +0300
Cc: Bob Briscoe <ietf@bobbriscoe.net>, "tsvwg@ietf.org" <tsvwg@ietf.org>
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To: Sebastian Moeller <moeller0@gmx.de>
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Subject: Re: [tsvwg] Traffic protection as a hard requirement for NQB
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> On 11 Sep, 2019, at 1:31 pm, Sebastian Moeller <moeller0@gmx.de> wrote:
> 
> IMHO this is not exactly the same as me claiming my car to be 17 years old, which by itself will most likely have zero effect on anything, except maybe the verbosity of my story (and hence will not require verification). Now, let's see what happens if we actually make the age of the car relevant:
> 	Say, there is a specific tax exemption for cars older than 16 years (or a special tax increase, the direction does not really matter); and, say I want to buy the car you claim to be 17 years old, do you really expect me to not verify your claim? (And how could I actually not realize the age of the car, given that the car's papers will state the manufacturing date explicitly (at least here in Germany they do)? It sees to me that once the age of a car actually has actionable meaning verification will in all likelihood happen. Otherwise, I have a 17 year old car to sell to you...

In the UK, there are quite a few exemptions from modern regulations that would otherwise apply to vintage cars.  Emissions, safety equipment, safety-related aspects of design, styles of registration plate, and so on.  I think the cutoff date for many of these exemptions is somewhere in the early 1970s, and is defined by the "date of first registration".  The exemptions do not, AFAIK, apply to newly built replicas of these vintage designs.

Conversely, in the UK the date of registration is encoded into the registration number, in a way that's quite easy for an interested party to read, and it is forbidden to apply a registration number *newer* than that corresponding to the date of first registration of a particular vehicle (though you *are* allowed to transfer an older plate to a newer vehicle).  This is a regulation mostly aimed at sales of relatively new cars, in which the precise age of the vehicle has a strong correlation with its depreciation, in much the same way as odometer regulations.

So the age of a car is a fact that is often worthwhile to verify, in either direction.  But it tends to be relatively easy to do so in most cases, by referring to paperwork, checking the registration number, and/or looking up the VIN in a database.

By contrast, imagine you're trying to buy a 6502 CPU.  Sometimes you need one to repair a vintage computer - but you might also be trying to build a new machine as a hobby project.  Now, 6502s are in fact still being made (by WDC) with a speed rating of 14MHz and quite a few features that early models lacked; you can buy one for €7, if you can find a distributor willing to sell just one to you, as opposed to a batch of ten or more.  There are also several dozen combinations of older manufacturers and models, all the way back to MOS' original 1976 production run in which one of the instructions was faulty (and consequently omitted from contemporary documentation).

Your average Chinese eBay or AliExpress listing of 6502s will advertise a very cheap source of Rockwell 4MHz or WDC 10MHz parts.  The markings are very neatly printed, and seem in remarkably good condition for chips of such age - production of those models ended in the 1990s.  And you only have to pay €2 with free shipping!  Okay, it'll take a few weeks on the boat, but it'll take you that long to finish assembling the rest of your prototype anyway.  I'll buy three.

When it arrives, however, it doesn't work.  After some experimentation, you might discover that it is in fact a 6502 - but a circa-1980 NMOS model, with very different electrical and performance characteristics to the 1990s CMOS model you thought you were getting.  This wouldn't matter if you were repairing some ancient Apple II which was designed around those characteristics, but your project has much more stringent performance requirements, and now you're stuck.

And while the three examples you have in hand have identical markings on top, you now notice that they have slightly different cases, and different markings on the bottom - so they were not all made by Rockwell or WDC, but by three different manufacturers from the several that made 6502s back in the day.  If you're *lucky*, one of them was *actually* a Rockwell product.  And the date-codes are from the 2010s, long after the purported models went out of production.

The Chinese e-waste recycler has simply taken all the 6502s he can find, scraped the original markings off the top, straightened the pins, and printed a standard marking resembling that of one of the more desirable versions of the chip.  This costs him basically nothing to do and increases his income significantly, so that's good business to him.  He has your money - that's the important part.  And he's sold you a set of working CPUs, so his conscience is clear.  The fact that there are different models of 6502 is simply lost on him.  Why should it matter?

But it matters to you, the buyer.

 - Jonathan Morton