According to several reports on Thursday, a former Intel (www.intel.com) design engineer has been charged with stealing $1 billion worth of trade secrets from the chipmaker while he worked for its main rival, Advanced Micro Devices (www.amd.com).
Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts alleged this week in a five-count indictment that Biswamohan Pani illegally downloaded more than a dozen confidential documents from Intel's computer system in June.
According to reports on CNET, the FBI charged Pani after finding more than 100 pages of sensitive Intel documents, including "13 top secret files" with designs for future processor chips worth $1 billion in research and development costs, in Pani's home.
The information he apparently snagged is believed to be related to Intel's next-generation Itanium microprocessor, says ABC News.
Pani resigned from Intel in May, with plans on staying on until June 11. However, rather than investigating a hedge fund job he told his supervisors he was considering, he started working for rival chipmaker AMD. During this period, he still had access to his Intel laptop and the company's network and was even on both companies' payrolls.
The indictment against Pani claims he collected the sensitive information from Intel for its competitive value to his new employer and to advance his career at AMD.
However, Pani told investigators he had no intention of harming Intel, and was going to give the information to his wife, who also worked for Intel.
Pani's lawyer, Brad Bailey, declined to comment on specifics of the case but says Pani denies the allegations and plans to take the case to trial.
Prosecutors say AMD had no knowledge of Pani's intentions and didn't benefit from his actions. The company says it is also cooperating with investigators.
Pani has been charged with one count of theft of trade secrets as well as four counts of wire fraud. If convicted, Pani could face 10 years in prison for the theft charge and up to 20 years on each wire fraud charge.
Associated Press reports that Intel owns 80 percent of the worldwide market for microprocessors - designed for desktop computers, laptops and servers - while AMD holds the rest. Chip designs are apparently among the companies' most closely guarded secrets.
Intel officially launched the dual-core Atom 330 server solution in late September, which features two 1.6 GHz processor cores, 1MB of cache and 64-bit processing.
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