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Intel Engineer Flip-Flops to AMD, Company Secrets Stolen?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 19 comments

An ex-Intel employee is currently being investigated by the FBI for allegedly attempting to provide confidential company secrets to market competitor, AMD.

Biswahoman Pani, a former engineer at Intel’s Hudson facility, is learning a rather simple lesson the hard way – it is not the best idea to start secretly working for AMD while still an Intel employee. Worse yet, it probably is a really bad idea to have over a hundred pages of sensitive Intel documents, top secret design plans and CAD drawings belonging to Intel laying around your home when starting that new job at AMD. Pani has been recently charged with allegedly stealing company trade secrets after an FBI investigation into the matter back in July 2008,

According to The Boston Globe, the story began when Biswahoman Pani told his Intel supervisors he missed his wife, Vandana Padhi, who was also an Intel employee, but who had been stationed at a facility out in California. Near the end of May, Intel approved the request to transfer his wife to the Hudson facility, however the response from Pani was probably not what Intel expected.

Only hours after, Pani handed in his resignation to Intel claiming he now wanted a job with a hedge fund and then left on vacation leave, waiting for his employment at Intel to end on June 11. When it was later discovered by another Intel employee that Pani had begun working for AMD, the FBI were called in to investigate. Apparently Pani began working for AMD on June 2, only days after his resignation from Intel.

An investigation of Pani’s house on July 1 unturned secret documents belonging to Intel of future design plans for upcoming Intel processors, although Pani claimed they were kept for reasons of curiosity and to help aid his wife with her job at the new facility. Pani is no longer working for AMD and despite having his passport seized, he is not under custody.

The FBI states there is no evidence that AMD was involved in Pani’s alleged actions and there is no evidence that AMD gained possession of any sensitive Intel documents. AMD and Intel are both fully cooperating with the investigation.

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  • 1 Hide
    jimmysmitty , September 16, 2008 12:24 AM
    Wow. What stupid people will do. He will probably get some fines or something bad.
  • 2 Hide
    neodude007 , September 16, 2008 12:53 AM
    MMMM FBI searching your house = fail. I don't see how CAD blueprints and 100 page secret documents are your average reading material. That sucks but I would imagine he deserves everything coming his way. Buuuut AMD could use the help. If they stepped up there would be some hot competition like AMD/Nvidia. Cheap stuff for everyone hooooooo
  • 0 Hide
    Camikazi , September 16, 2008 1:23 AM
    Isn't this the same guy who's wife STILL works for Intel and would have reason for having those papers? Yes, starting to work for AMD while still employed to Intel is bad, but that does not mean he stole those papers, when there is a chance his wife needed them for her work.
  • 2 Hide
    sacre , September 16, 2008 1:28 AM
    See..

    Its the FBI and two major companies at work here, I think there is more behind this, and lot more lies then truth.

    With those 3 Giants (intel, amd, fbi) there is NO possible way 1 single guy would beable to defend himself.

    After seeing the amount of corruption in Americas system, and how democracy doesn't mean a thing if you're rich, I have a hard time believing any of this.
  • 1 Hide
    zerapio , September 16, 2008 3:24 AM
    Camikazi, this is not stock paper for the printer we're talking about; it's TOP SECRET stuff. As you can imagine not everyone in the company has access to top secret material and all of those who do have only access to the material relevant to their work.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , September 16, 2008 3:35 AM
    Meh who cares. Intel cannot create new technology for its hardware now until AMD creates it first. Thier quad solution was simply sticking 2 Dual cores together. Now its a hypertransport L3 cache user like... The Phenoms. They even have a 512KB L2 Cache.

    What were the secret blue-prints? Larrabee designs for a multi-core array of processors that utilize GDDR5, and DX10.1?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 16, 2008 3:47 AM
    As an engineer for a major motherboard manufacturer, I have countless documents which could be considered sensitive at my home. Finding time to study new schematics and data sheets at work can be difficult at times. I guess I should destroy them should I ever start working for someone else...
  • -1 Hide
    stephen1960 , September 16, 2008 5:58 AM
    If I were running Intel, I would actually throw some designs to AMD to help them. A healthy AMD is good for us and good for Intel. And it would reduce risk of those pesky anti trust issues. Leadership maturity required, though. It would have to be slipped to AMD on the sly. Perhaps by way of an ex employee, which would provide denyability in case of exposure...
  • -2 Hide
    stephen1960 , September 16, 2008 6:02 AM
    I'm such a genius. Intel should totally hire me. First thing I would do, other than slip trade secrets to AMD, would be to hire Tom's Hardware. Perhaps I wouldn't need to actually hire Tom's Hardware, perhaps I could just troll the message boards and article comments.
  • -1 Hide
    Pei-chen , September 16, 2008 11:01 AM
    So that's why the 45nm Phenom is delayed until next year instead of this holiday season.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , September 16, 2008 12:03 PM
    The only thing that Intel has that AMD needs is enough cash to catch up to Intel on the 45/32nm manufacturing technology. AMDs CPU designs have been superior for the better part of a decade now.
  • 0 Hide
    kitsilencer , September 16, 2008 12:04 PM
    Imagine if it was the other way around. AMD fanboys would be screaming blue murder.
  • -1 Hide
    martin0642 , September 16, 2008 1:34 PM
    Not to be picky or anything, but top secret is a U.S. Government designation for government material designated to cause devastating damage to national security if released to the public and foreign countries.

    Companies using terms like this is just them trying to be spy .vs spy and act as though their little white papers are official in the sense the term normally carries as applied to actual classified government data. Intel might as well have designated this data, with big red stamp and all, "Super Ultra Ninja Compartmented with type 2 LoLCat Encrypted" data. The government standard has a 70 year expiration date to protect the method by which the intel was gathered, see if people wait 70 years to protect intel's new "video card" specs...
  • 0 Hide
    knickle , September 16, 2008 3:43 PM
    I find it more believable that someone at AMD suspected him as being an Intel spy, and Intel blew the whistle first to cover it all up.

    I have known plenty of people in my line of work that have gotten a new job with a competitor, and their houses were not searched for "secret documents".

    I call shinanigans on this one.
  • -2 Hide
    captaincharisma , September 16, 2008 4:05 PM
    theres no way amd is going be be able to use the intel documents the FBI will surly seize them. but AMD is pethetic and sad enough that they will find some way to use them
  • 1 Hide
    miribus , September 17, 2008 2:23 AM
    The guy did nothing but act suspicious from the beginning.
    First he's all about missing his wife, when transferred he decides to quit anyway and lies about where he's going.

    Doesn't make him guilty though.

    Sounds to me, since Intel was willing to work with the guy and transfer his family in the first place, he might have been fairly important.

    Also the article says:
    The FBI was called in after an Intel employee learned about 8Pani's job with AMD and ordered a check of the computer system to see if Pani had accessed confidential documents.

    "Intellectual property is a critical asset for Intel," said company spokeswoman Claudine Mangano. "We basically asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate activities, and we are cooperating with that investigation."


    So, he apparently did something on their system, accessed something he shouldn't have, which got them the warrant to search in the first place.

    But he's still innocent so far.


    For all the people who seem to think that this guy is just some poor misunderstood sap, assuming the paper is actually accurate for a change and that the story behind "missing his wife" then "working for a hedge fund" is true, only to find out he's working for your direct competitor for over a week. Do you really think he did that just so he'd have a cool story to tell or something to hide? I'm also willing to bet, in fact be shocked if it wasn't true, that he signed multiple NDAs and non-compete clauses in his contract.

    He's still innocent until proven otherwise and it's not up to a forum to convict him, however to say that checking him out is unwarranted is just being naive.
    Use the objective side of your head.

    captaincharismatheres no way amd is going be be able to use the intel documents the FBI will surly seize them. but AMD is pethetic and sad enough that they will find some way to use them

    I highly doubt it, AMD and Intel's architectures have been very different for well over a decade. x86 sure, but AMD's core design is vastly different, so I'm willing to bet since the documents had to do with CPUs they would've been useless to AMD anyway.

    w45hws45hAs an engineer for a major motherboard manufacturer, I have countless documents which could be considered sensitive at my home. Finding time to study new schematics and data sheets at work can be difficult at times. I guess I should destroy them should I ever start working for someone else...


    Desktop? Motherboard manufacturers work off of reference designs and barely change them, so there isn't anything that Asus doesn't know that MSI does. Custom board houses are a lot different and far more secretive. Not that that either scenario changes the illegality of having documents you shouldn't and breaking contracts (NDAs and Non-Competes), and you might be able to skate on that, but you're missing the point, bringing home documents that the company lets you bring home because you still work for them is one thing. Having them while secretly working for the competitor and lying about it is another.
    Combine that with being able to apparently (For the FBI's sake I hope) prove that you accessed these sensitive materials when you are working for another company... well... yeah sorry call me a conservative but that's sketchy. This isn't a McDonald's employee taking home their soft-drink syrup to seltzer ratio numbers "out of curiosity" while secretly working for Burger King, this is industrial espionage and falls into the FBI's jurisdiction.

    I will say this much for Pani. 100 pages of sensitive documents? 100 whole pages? That's like, what one? maybe half a datasheet? Ever look at Intel or datasheets? They're encyclopedias.

    The MAN is after me just because I lied about my whereabouts and why I have a still smoking gun just feet away from the bullet-riddled corpse of the person I lied about knowing.
  • 0 Hide
    Aoster87 , September 18, 2008 9:05 PM
    Jay-DThe only thing that Intel has that AMD needs is enough cash to catch up to Intel on the 45/32nm manufacturing technology. AMDs CPU designs have been superior for the better part of a decade now.


    AMD was out-performing Intel until the Core 2 series was launched. Intel continues to out-perform AMD.
  • 0 Hide
    ZootyGray , September 19, 2008 5:47 PM
    To those who want to AMD more competitive or doing better - rather than wait, make it happen - stop supporting monopoly, antitrust, copying, sabotage, etc. And find out about those lying benchmark performance tests. Learn why spintel keeps changing the SIMD instrux like sse397 etc. Learn about selective compilers. etc etc etc
    Here's a good start.
    http://scientiasblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/reviews-and-fairness-or-how-to-make.html
  • 0 Hide
    roofus , November 8, 2008 1:51 PM
    LOL. Buying an inferior part does not send the right message to AMD Zooty. That indicates to them they are on the right track. This spring I built my first Intel computer in 8 years. every computer in between was AMD. I sent my message to them I wasnt running a charity, I was building a computer and wanted the best performance available at the time (same criteria that always pointed me the AMd way in the past). In another two years if AMD is still in existence and has the best offering I will gladly go with them.