back to article Six on capacitor charges

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has accused six people of conspiring to rig the prices charged for capacitors. Prosecutors say that six foreign nationals, all executives with electronics manufacturers, conspired to keep the prices for capacitors artificially high. The six struck a series of deals extending from 2000 to …

  1. Ted's Toy

    What would have been the outcome if they were American Wall St companies?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      What would the outcome if they were Wall St?

      They would have been put in charge of the investigation, which would have taken seven years to complete, the report would stack up to over six feet and they would have been completely exonerated.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Interesting. I wonder what this has to do with the old capacitor plague problem?

    Rubycon is the corporation from which the incomplete capacitor formula was supposedly stolen. And the timeline is about right.

    1. DaLo

      The other issue with capacitors is using capacitors for power supplies (and other uses) on devices that are expected to run 24x7 but the MTBF of the cheap caps they used means that they fail after just a few years.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


        Some time ago, I made a similar point, but was told by someone on the forums that the MTBF is based on the device being used at it's maximum voltage and temperature rating.

        I was told that if you over-specify the capacitor, for example use ones rated at 105 Centigrade and 1000V for a instance that was room temperature plus and 230V, the MTBF would be exceeded many times.

        Of course, what that probably means is that the original designers over-specify the devices, and during the production planning, devices only just exceeding the typical operating environment would be substituted as a cost saving measure.

        I'm not really fussed, as it means that broken things with simple fixes can be bought and repaired for my own use, quite cheaply.

        I often wonder just how many of the multitude of flat panel TV's that appear in our local recycling center are an easy fix.

        1. DaLo

          Re: @DaLo

          Sure the temperature has a significant bearing on extending the lifetime, however it isn't as dramatic as some people have stated. Overall I have seen many caps die, often in power supplies and they are all in 24x7 devices and the caps are on the budget end with relatively low (often 10,000 hours) lifetime ratings.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: @DaLo

            I recently spent some time learning how modern transformer-less switch-mode power supplies actually operate (thanks BOLTR on youtube), and I've changed my mind about how many of the capacitors are on 24x7 in the power supply.

            It is quite clear that there are some that don't, but most power supplies in devices with standby mode nowadays appear to use a basic bridge rectifier and some high quality capacitors, and then feed the barely smoothed 120/240V DC into switched MosFets and smoothing capacitors/voltage regulators to act as voltage converters. The result is that when the device is in standby, most of the caps on the LT side of the MosFets are actually not powered up at all.

            Of course, the switching control circuits are powered all the time, as are the first stage smoothing capacitors on the HT side, but this somewhat reduces the need for over-spec'd devices that will run for 100,000s of hours.

            I'm not denying that capacitors fail, but I wonder what the statistical variance is on the MTBF figures for the cheapest Chinese capacitors actually is. I suspect this is more likely to cause early failures rather than devices that get close to the MTBF.

  3. Allan George Dyer


    1. Gavin King

      I wonder what what's in store for them. Hopefully not discharge without conviction.

      The deals seem to have accumulated for quite some time, so I doubt they'll get a plate as a reward. I'm glad the D.o.J. have the spare capacity to deal with them though.

      I'm glad its Faraday: time to go home!

      (In my defense I'm a touch delirious at present.)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Having been on the discharge end of a 0.1 Fd cap charged to - 20 kV, shocking indeed (farad, not milli- or micro-farad). So far, 9 of us lived (1985). only 2 w/o a pacemaker. [I always kept my linoleum floors washed with detergent, no wax, thank you.)

    On a more serious note, I'm far from surprised here. The real surprise would be that such collusion doesn't occur, sadly. Anyone recall the VDT or LCD price-fixing scandals? Especially for military contracts. Don't get me started on those!

    Mines the one with military price schedule in it. (No capacitors, please!)

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Six foreign companies agreed to fix the prices.

    Which is exactly the same that US companies (IBM / Drugmakers) have been doing since the dawn of market capitalism. Only reason these are being put in the dock is they aren't Amurikan.

  6. akeane

    At least...

    ... they didn't resist arrest

    1. frank ly

      Re: At least...

      The atmosphere was electric in a packed to capacity courtroom. There was no impedance to justice being done after the admittance of their guilt and the jury were discharged.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least...

        Is there a condensed version of this story?

        1. Cynic_999

          Re: At least...

          One of the female perps, Millie Ohm had originally planned to cut her way out after giving a sine to her boyfriend Henry to meter with some escape equipment, but he was foiled by a SAW filter. So instead she seduced a guard who couldn't resistor, then escaped across the Wheatstone bridge on her megacycle.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least...

        The prosecutor was humming to himself: There's a hole in your defence, dear Henry, dear Henry...

        [PS: Surely the atmosphere was dielectric?]

  7. Captain DaFt


    The object of the crime rather than the perpetrators was charged with battery.

    (OK, OK, I'm leaving.) ☺

  8. akeane

    If found guilty...

    they should be locked up!

    (in a faraday cage)

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Talk about baiting the audience

    Really El Reg, what did you expect? Resistance? No L of a chance of that.


  10. Dwarf

    Apparently they didn't put up much resistance when arrested, which means that the prosecutors have a lot less time to charge them - its rumoured to be somewhere around 5RC

  11. Peter Stone

    To name only one company & to call the rest A,B,C etc, is sure tantalising

  12. Acme Fixer

    We had servers with dual power supplies that were hot swappable. If the equipment is online 24/7, it should be designed for that purpose. If the organization doesn't spend the extra money to get this redundancy and reliability, then expect to get what you paid for.

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