Engineers pinched for selling Intel samples on eBay

It’s no secret that CPU engineering samples get around; if they didn’t, we wouldn’t be treated to spy shots from the Far East on a regular basis. Well, four engineers in Taiwan allegedly tried to turn the whole thing into an industrial enterprise, and they got pinched by the Taiwanese equivalent of the FBI. Here’s the scoop from EE Times:

Detectives had been tracking the suspects since September, conducting a raid on their homes last month, taking 178 sample CPUs – worth an estimated $82,500—into police custody.
According to the CIB’s statement, the suspects admitted to selling more than 500 Intel engineering sample CPUs since 2009.

The four suspects worked for “Intel’s OEM manufacturers in Taiwan.” They allegedly peddled “rare” chips with unlocked multipliers, which I’m guessing were prized among the overclockers and enthusiasts who managed to snag them. EE Times doesn’t say if the suspects ever put any pre-release chips up for auction, though.

Comments closed
    • zoom314
    • 8 years ago

    There will always be an old ES cpu floating around, of course one may have to be a Wizard to find It.

    • cegras
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]which I'm guessing were prized among the overclockers and enthusiasts who managed to snag them.[/quote<] Many years ago I opined on XS that overclocking was more luck of the draw and resources than anything. From memory, they didn't take kindly to that.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      QFT

      • ColeLT1
      • 8 years ago

      I would say overclocking is more, in this order:
      1) Matching correct components that allow successful overclock
      2) How much headroom this series of chips typically has
      3) Luck/work or time put in/OC experience

      Obviously anyone on XS should have #1 and #2 covered when they make a purchase, so yeah, they of all people should fit right into the luck category.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Ok, they now caught the folks selling Intel eng. samples to AMD. How about nabbing the folks selling AMD eng. samples to Intel?

      • Yeats
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Ok, they now caught the folks selling Intel eng. samples to AMD. How about nabbing the folks selling AMD eng. samples to Intel?[/quote<] I'm sorry, but what does AMD have to do with this?

        • ronch
        • 8 years ago

        I think these ES chips are of more interest to AMD than motherboard manufacturers in Taiwan. Intel probably gives out these ES chips to most (if not all) of their motherboard partners, so why would any motherboard maker resort to under-the-table acquisition of these chips? Also, some crazy collectors/geeks would probably want these things, but how many are there to make you risk your career? On the other hand, AMD would be the most logical interested party. Just think – if you were a motherboard maker who legally gets their ES chips from Intel anyway, why would you go black market? And if you were AMD, wouldn’t you be eager to grab one of these to get an early hint on your competitor’s performance? It’s the same the other way around.

      • TheEmrys
      • 8 years ago

      What would intel need them for? When I visited one of their campuses, they had plenty of coasters.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    oy, pay your workers a decent wage and they might not have to resort to this. shame on you, intel, you cheap basturds!

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      Almost every motherboard maker is in Taiwan, which would undoubtedly be the “Intel’s OEM manufacturers.” Time to go use the ATM machine!

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 8 years ago

    LOL

    • NeelyCam
    • 8 years ago

    I wonder if any made it to the hands of Chipworks… I wouldn’t mind seeing what funny stuff Intel has in its 22nm trigate process.

    • emorgoch
    • 8 years ago

    Is it just me, or do those chips seem highly under valued? $82,500 / 178 = $463.48. Assuming that the majority of these chips were the unlocked ones, and presumably a more than a few pre-releases, I’m guessing they could probably get closer to $1000 for them.

      • mczak
      • 8 years ago

      I think that would depend on when they were selling them – if that was after release these samples more have collector value rather than anything else.
      If those were pre-release steppings they might have bugs preventing them from working in a really useful way. Despite being unlocked early steppings might also not overclock well, and even if they did at least for mainstream platforms unlocked cpus aren’t that expensive.
      Now if they sold them pre-release I’m sure quite a few people would be interested – but that might also need the appropriate motherboard to be really useful. And I doubt it would take the cops so long to turn up if they tried to sell them pre-release…

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      Since the article was in a US publication, one assumes those figures were being quoted in USD. TWD convert at about 3:1 right now, so on the Taiwanese market the prices would have been considerably higher.

      But in any case, it was all pure profit for the sellers — they were dealing in stolen property, after all.

      • ew
      • 8 years ago

      I doubt they were selling them directly at retail. Probably need to factor in several layers of middle men to get the retail price for the chips. Considering they were essentially stealing the chips $463.48 each is pretty good.

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 8 years ago

    I’m guessing we will see a fewer leaked benches around the web. I’ll miss the leaks but those idgets deserve to get caught too.

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      Im sure they arent the only ones doing it, and i ignore leaked reviews anyway, they are usually very poor quality and you never know if it will correlate to the final product or not.

    • Silus
    • 8 years ago

    LOL, what idiots! Ruining their career over this! Yes, ruining, since this is the type of thing that will never go away when applying for a new job in the same area…

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      Two things here.

      There’s probably a large difference between selling released and pre-released chips, at least criminally and from Intel’s view.

      Then there is your issue. Why stealing is bad and a dumb way to ruin ones job I wonder how much of a “career” this was. I wonder if they were actual chip “engineers” or simply…laborers on a manufacturing line who were labelled “engineers” to increase their own self-worth and egos. I’m simply saying they might have done it because their jobs were crummy and they were scraping by a living. Maybe not though. These things are so far attached it’s hard to know.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        my thoughts too. asia isn’t known for good work conditions.

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<][...]I wonder if they were actual chip "engineers" or simply...laborers on a manufacturing line who were labelled "engineers" to increase their own self-worth and egos.[...][/quote<] I wonder if that's the case also based upon a personal experience of mine with some Asian "experts".

        • Jahooba
        • 8 years ago

        How would laborers on a manufacturing line get access to unlocked chips? Aren’t those chips for testing purposes? It seems like you would need to be some type of engineer to be in a position to snag these chips before they’re thrown away or recycled (or whatever they do to chips that aren’t needed).

          • Peldor
          • 8 years ago

          Maybe they were sanitation engineers. Those guys have access to everything!

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      Meh, it’s the usual human curse of short-term thinking, and besides, what usually happens to these engineering samples once the product development cycle is complete? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing they’re normally shredded and recycled, and these guys figured nobody would miss them.

      A friend of mine used to work for a government defense contractor in a position that required a fairly high level of security clearance, and while there, he saw a guy get fired because said guy decided to text his girlfriend on the job…from inside a high-security laboratory within the contractor’s facility, which itself was located on a military base. As I understand it, he was detected by RF monitoring equipment, tracked down accordingly, and then literally bounced out the front gate by uniformed MPs.

      Shorter: Never underestimate the human capacity for stupid at a bad time.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    Too bad they got caught….though they were doing it for the money, i believe they made many geeks happy…

      • Meadows
      • 8 years ago

      For their own personal gain.

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]though they were doing it for the money[/quote<] Must be the holidays....

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