Former AMD, Intel engineer pleads guilty to stealing sensitive documents

By on April 9, 2012, 6:00 PM

Biswamohan Pani, a former engineer for both Intel and AMD, has plead guilty to five counts of fraud centered around the theft of sensitive Intel documents. The stolen information, valued at an approximate total of $1 billion, included chip-related design and manufacturing data. It is thought Pani intended to use the information for purposes of career advancement. However, AMD denied knowledge of Pani's wrongdoing and has cooperated fully with federal investigators.

AMD official, Mike Silverman, has assured us that, "AMD respects the intellectual property of other companies. AMD was completely unaware of Mr. Pani’s actions until we were contacted by the FBI, and we provided our full and prompt cooperation with the investigation."

Pani had worked at Intel's Hudson-based chip making plant located in Massachusetts before he submitted his resignation on May 29, 2008. Although his last day at Intel was June 11, Pani began his new job at AMD on Jun 2 while simultaneously retaining access to Intel's network. During this time, he had been downloading sensitive documents centered around Intel's manufacturing and chip designs.

Corporate espionage and intellectual property theft -- be it the theft of trade secrets, schematics or other proprietary information -- can be extremely lucrative in the right hands. Investigators have found no links between AMD and Pani however, in terms of willful espionage.

Intel quickly learned of the breach and stopped the engineer from pilfering documents before he could "use them to Intel's disadvantage". With Intel's help, federal investigators recovered approximately $200-$400 million worth of stolen information from Pani's home.

Pani, originally charged in 2008, may face up to 20 years in prison for each of the 5 counts of fraud brought against him. Sentencing is scheduled for August 8.




User Comments: 18

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Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

Of course AMD didn't know or use those Intel documents, they still made Bulldozer and look how that came out.

pmkrefeld said:

@sarcasm

take intel cpus to globalfoundries, then you will now the real performance difference

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Hey alright we might see some faster AMD CPU's now. :P

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

No harm no foul. AMD and Intel, as is the case with most (if not all) industry hardware vendors would have a honour system in place to guard against industrial espionage...otherwise the recipient of some information today, might well be the victim of information theft tomorrow. Given the amount of employee movement between companys it makes sense to safeguard against this sort of behaviour.

I'd hazard a guess that an ex-employee of Intel that moves to AMD (or vice versa) wouldn't be working on the exact same line of research in any case- most employment contracts in R&D stipulating a non-competition clause until a certain time after the employment is terminated

Of course AMD didn't know or use those Intel documents, they still made Bulldozer and look how that came out.

Bulldozer's been in development since 2006-07/forever. Even if Intel had sanctioned the information for AMD's use, it likely wouldn't have influenced AMD's design, since AMD and Intel have had a fundamental divergence in how they see CPU design.

take intel cpus to globalfoundries, then you will now the real performance difference

If Intel used glofo as a foundry partner instead of their own fabs, Intel would likely be selling Ivy Bridge in 2016.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Intel quickly learned of the breach and stopped the engineer from pilfering documents before he could "use them to Intel's disadvantage". With Intel's help, federal investigators recovered approximately $200-$400 million worth of stolen information from Pani's home.

Yea, when I lend a friend my bike, I send a federal investigator to recover it for me. That's the honor system my friend and I have.

EEatGDL said:

Yeah, about pmkrefeld comment, I don't understand it quite well in sense [his idea is pretty truncated] and I agree with dividebyzero, maybe not 2016 but quite possibly 2014, now imagine 14 nm manufacture... Intel fabs are quite impressive and pretty much unchallenged in terms of state-of-the art technology.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Yea, when I lend a friend my bike, I send a federal investigator to recover it for me. That's the honor system my friend and I have.

Firstly, I'd say your analogy might only work if your friend stole the bike (rather than it being given), the bike was worth more than it's weight in gold, and your friend both profited by the theft and caused you to incur ongoing losses because of the theft.....and you then prosecuted the case using overwhelming force designed to deter future "friends" from also turning into would be thieves...but other than that your analogy is pretty accurate.

Point to note: At Intel Mr Pani worked for -and stole CAD design/spec data from-the Itanium division. Anyone care to guess how much AMD (or anyone else) cares about Itanium ? Now considering Pani has said he "only took the documents out of "curiosity" or to "impress" his future employer." I'm actually wondering why he didn't pursue an insanity defence.

@EEatGDL

The 2016 comment was facetious. A little jab at glofo's protracted problems at 28nm and the late realization that gate first is a dead duck.

Chazz said:

dividebyzero said:

Point to note: At Intel Mr Pani worked for and stole CAD design/spec data from Itanium division. Anyone care to guess how much AMD cares about Itanium ? I'm actually wondering why he didn't pursue an insanity defence.

LMAO. I'm sure he'd have a sound case.

Razer said:

several months later, AMD issued new Bulldozer, called AMD i9

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Yea, when I lend a friend my bike, I send a federal investigator to recover it for me. That's the honor system my friend and I have.

When was the last time your friend took $200-400mill of information from you and went to your competitor? You may think a little differently

Guest said:

My surprise was how the guy was able to get away with being in both camps in June and continued to download data / information even, i would not be a happy shareholder if i invested in Intel.

As to wether or not AMD knew that is unlikely they did, i don't see that type of behaviour being productive for a major corporation such as Intel or AMD if they had that knowledge as it would open pandoras box on them both.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

dividebyzero said:

Yea, when I lend a friend my bike, I send a federal investigator to recover it for me. That's the honor system my friend and I have.

Firstly, I'd say your analogy might only work if your friend stole the bike

BINGO! So where is this honour system you speak of if Intel called the feds?

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Darth Shiv said:

Yea, when I lend a friend my bike, I send a federal investigator to recover it for me. That's the honor system my friend and I have.

When was the last time your friend took $200-400mill of information from you and went to your competitor? You may think a little differently

Dividebyzero said Intel and AMd have an "honour" system in relation to stolen property. So I'm wondering where the honour is if Intel called the feds and in turn, an investigation is started.

Here is another example of "honour" between companies:

[link]

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Let's try this again with the first part of his post...

No harm no foul. AMD and Intel, as is the case with most (if not all) industry hardware vendors would have a honour system in place to guard against industrial espionage.

So the guard against espionage is calling the feds? DUH!!!!

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Any "truce" the company's have or say they have with one another is just an attempt to fool your average Joe.

Truce? Are you kidding me?

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Let's try this again with the first part of his post...

No harm no foul. AMD and Intel, as is the case with most (if not all) industry hardware vendors would have a honour system in place to guard against industrial espionage.

So the guard against espionage is calling the feds? DUH!!!!

The honour system pertains to NOT using using technology that originates from a direct competitor, if that technology is a company secret or proprietry/patented.

The honour system DOES NOT pertain to a company prosecuting theft from an employee.

To put in simpler terms for you using a hypothetical scenario you may identify with more;

- You decide to leave your job as shelf stacker at the local grocery for greener pastures.

- You decide to ingratiate yourself with your new employers by stealing stock from the grocery so as to impress your new employer with your skill set labeled "Thieving Employee" -which you are sure that the HR department will surely value. The stolen stock will also help with their cash flow...bonus!

- You turn up at your new job at Wal-Mart...and promptly demonstrate your commitment to your new position by plunking down your armload of stolen Depends adult diapers (a close grocery equivalent to Itanium), and then tell them that you are more than willing to steal from a present employer to establish trust with a future employer.

Honour System: Wal-Mart return the diapers to the grocery with an explanation

Nothing to do with the honour system: The grocery calls the cops and has you prosecuted for theft.

So, just remember, the next time you're out to impress, leave the diapers on the shelf.

BTW: Your HC link just demonstrates that:

1. Unnamed Chinese companies don't adhere to an honour system, and,

2. AMD and Intel aren't using the same R&D tools as Unnamed Chinese companys, and

3. Samsung and "Unnamed Chinese Company" probably don't have a cross-license of patent IP as is the case with Intel and AMD

Guest said:

So history repeats itself... Never liked AMD, never sold AMD and will always continue the support Intel.

Nothing to do with anyone who chooses AMD - AMD have ok CPU's but I will not support criminals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Micro_Devices

Read the part where they cloned Intel's CPU's - Who says they haven't been stealing from Intel all these years? Just because it is news now, just means that this guy have been caught this time.

So who do you support?

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

^^^ ???

Of the all the possible reasons to choose Intel over AMD, I don't think Intel's ethical behaviour has ever been put forward as one of them...by anyone....ever

A possible reason why might be found >>here<<

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