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AMD China Businesses Crime Hardware Technology

AMD and Nvidia Silicon Manufacturing Secrets Allegedly Stolen, Sold To China ( 103

According to a report on DigiTimes, a former TSMC engineer has been accused of stealing the secrets of their 28nm manufacturing process and taking them across the Taiwan Straits to Chinese rival, HLMC. "The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) produce the chips for the great and the good of the PC hardware market, specifically Nvidia and latterly AMD," reports PCGamesN. From the report: The report claims the former engineer, known only as Hsu, has been accused of taking details and materials relating to TSMC's 28nm manufacturing process and handing them over to Shanghai Huali Microelectronics (HLMC) after being offered a job there. The engineer was arrested before he even had a chance to start his new job on mainland China. This isn't the first reported instance of potentially shady dealings involving HLMC. DigiTimes previously reported that the Chinese foundry had headhunted a team of up to 50 research and development engineers from Taiwan's first semiconductor company, United Microelectronics (UMC), to help them get their 28nm production process up to speed. DigiTimes also alleges that some Chinese memory manufacturers have been doing the same thing, headhunting Taiwanese talent to get their own fabs off the ground, and that Micron are taking legal action against some of their Taiwan partners for allegedly nicking their tech and handing it over to China-based RAM companies.
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AMD and Nvidia Silicon Manufacturing Secrets Allegedly Stolen, Sold To China

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    But we're all too willing to buy all kinds of Chinese shit.

    Because cheap - and that's it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd rather say because expenssive - and that's it.

      Western products are too expenssive to justify the amount of money to spend on them. Starting from the same chinese produced item, the cost is much higher here, sometimes double or even trible of what it costs at chinese online shops. Next is the fact that pretty much any product, you can't trust that paying more actually brings any quality improvements, quarantees are not respected (hello Apple) and consumer protection does not work.

      Chinese products break,

      • by fubarrr ( 884157 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @07:13AM (#54359701)

        >Chinese products break, because they are produced as cheaply as possible, western products break because they are engineered to break.

        No, no, no man. I once worked in electronics OEMs. I assure you, all shit requests to "strip the product to the last cent" come from Western buyers: HP, Best Buy, Dell (those guy have massively improved once Michael Dell kicked out flowchart warriors,) Bang and Olufsen, Google (their bundled usb chargers were some of the crappiest on the market tech-wise around 2012)

        Chinese domestic makers are faaaaar more concerned with issues of high return rate since they don't have marketing power to run on high margins. For a factory that survives with single digit margins, a 10% return rate means they are in loss, some times in a tripple digit loss. No, they will better up-rate all components, and materials than risk having returns and potential blacklisting by QC agents.

        • by tomxor ( 2379126 )
          If that's true then it must not apply to the mass of knock offs that come out of china with even cheaper components and wire in place of fuses and diodes and sellotape in place of screws.
          • Those type of products have to compete with the high-demand, high-margin, low cost products.

            A device charger for example - Samsung's charger design isn't much better than the knock-off Chinese but the knock off is a magnitude cheaper because Samsung has a huge markup and they found out you will still buy them even for Apple products where the charger is twice as expensive as Samsung's OEM but significantly better designed.

            On the other hand, Large LED panels, various SBC not only are done cheaper you can oft

          • I think what happens here is that the West learned that it's not worth cutting every cent at the risk of damaging a brand and dealing with excessive returns. They reevaluate and often ditch factories/suppliers and raise their US prices to compensate. Shoddy parts/processes left behind with these factories have to end up somewhere, and with the US raising prices to compensate, the Hong Kong/China conduit/trade consultants see an opportunity to release cheap and generically non-returnable products within th

        • Flowchart warriors?! I stilll have my flowchart template from my Introduction to Computers (circa 1993). Where do I sign up?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I lived in China for a while. They are improving FAST, but while it's true that Western buyers will strip costs to the bone... many Chinese will strip it past the bone. This is changing, but it's where they're at. A lot of people have just started manufacturing stuff and are new to Capitalism, and some percentage of those think that if it looks passable enough to get paid for it before it falls apart, good enough. It takes more experience than a lot of them have to figure out that screwing people is not

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I just started brain dumping and enjoyed it. Here's more, well past TLDR for many I'm sure.

            A primary function of government in China is to make introductions. They meet everyone, figure out what's going on, and make introductions to help things along. Good government guys are extremely good at talking for hours about anything and everything over lunch/dinner. (Where business is done, really) They talk up the other guy and smooth over the rough edges. You also usually need to be pretty good at drinking.

            • by fubarrr ( 884157 )

              Here, people are conditioned through mostly fake news or individual anecdotes of stupidity to think the government is incompetent. China's government, at least, is FAR from incompetent. If my Chinese venture was ready for funding, it would have been funded. By the government, or with a funding company via government assistance in introducing everyone. It's a slick, well oiled machine. It's not always fair, but it REALLY works.

              Ha! Like they are. What I see myself now is CCP declaring Jihad on China's manufacturing industry. Do you realize that the new mayor of Shenzhen has ordered 9000 to 10000 manufacturing enterprises providing jobs for MILLIONS to be closed and factories bulldozed to make way for garish hotels of Dongbei mafia? The previous mayor of Shenzhen did not want those guys to make his city a hooker parlor and this is why he was killed.

              Government is highly local. Localities, regions, etc all compete with each other. Government employees move up based on (well, who they know, but also) performance... which many times is measured by economic indicators or notable things they've accomplished. So, most everyone in government is competing with the town next door to improve the economy. That's a hell of a thing.

              Well, how do you get local contacts when they kill the few brainy people in the gove

          • Very interesting history, thanks
          • by fubarrr ( 884157 )

            MEN! Mod this guy up!!! I gave up my last mod point to return this post from negative score

        • No, the REAL problem is if they kill the teams who know those secrets besides stealing them. THEN we have a lost secret and have to buy out of competition. Federal Government does not see we cannot just apply Market Economics when the market is threatened and they should be protecting specially new technology companies at least to the extent patents are protectable, I mean, against such company foreign threats.
    • by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @10:46AM (#54360733)

      I used to be involved in building nuclear power plants in the U.S. One of my key suppliers kept sourcing steel (bar stock) from China - not from third party suppliers, but from their Chinese foundries.

      Then came the day when coupon testing of the steel showed some irregularities, and when we sent inspectors to China to see what was going on, discovered that instead of delivering LCC (impact tested, low temperature performing) steel, they were taking WCC (different steel), removing the "W" from the imprint, forging on an "L" and faking the CMTR (material chemistry) data sheets.

      This isn't unique, it wasn't a one-off, and there's a reason that giant companies have sourcing restrictions in their RFQs and POs like "No Chinese-sourced parts allowed."

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        And that is why you don't cut corners and rely on your supplier to do all testing.
        It's not just the Chinese who get up to those games. It's worth at least getting a small amount of one batch tested done to see what you are really getting.
        While the above sounds complicated (impact tested, low temperature performing) all that really means is cutting out a little bar, putting a notch in it, soaking it for a while in something like alcohol cooled with carbon dioxide (or leave it to soak in liquid nitrogen if i
      • I used to work at a food QA lab and they had to run all the fruit juice through a gas chromatograph to make sure it was what they were trying to buy. I think any international business is more at risk for shenanigans because enforcement would be harder... worst case scenario you'd lose your contract with the buyer.
  • The PRC's government is massively supportive of this behavior. The only way to deal with this is to ask a hard question: what would it take to make Taiwan unnecessary here? Cut them and the PRC out of the loop as much as possible. Shift federal policy as hard in that direction as possible. Otherwise industrial espionage will continue to get the "we are so sorry, we'll look RIGHT INTO THAT..." response from some of our "trade partners."

    • by Isca ( 550291 )
      This is one area I used to be hopeful on with Trump when he was elected (we had to try to make the best of a bad situation, right?). I had hoped his promised rules on "Buy American" with regards to technology would include a significant amount of internal components of things to be included as well.

      But the not actually existent yet rules seem to lean towards manufacturing includes being packaged/assembled only here.
      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        You are missing the essentially property of "infrastructure". China has it for electronics manufacturing as does Taiwan. The U.S. is lagging. No amount of Trump enacting Ballmer's Monkey Dance is going to change that...and he's too stupid to figure this out as well.

    • Not possible: all electronics is made in China, all parts for it are made in Taiwan.

      China can't defeat Taiwanese in semi, and Taiwanese can't stop relying on mainland for cheap labour.

  • The Chinese Method (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Saves a lot of money and time.

    No need to bother with R&D when you can just wait for someone else to do it, then just steal it and improve upon it.

    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      You mean the European method, also known as the US method, the Japanese method etc?

      Thinking this is unique for China is naive at best. The practice will decrease as the intellectual property market in China increases just as it have decreased in other countries/areas for the same reason.

      • I mean to be fair, in grade school we learned about the guy who stole the power loom tech from England as an American hero.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2017 @06:46AM (#54359635)

    This has nothing to do with AMD, NVidia, or any other American companies. This was, supposedly, a Taiwanese engineer selling information on manufacturing processes used by the Taiwanese TSMC, to a company on mainland China.

    • This has nothing to do with AMD

      Even more so, as AMD doesn't use 28nm process anymore, neither on GPU (14nm FinFet) [], nor CPU (also 14 nm) [], whereas the chipset is still done with a coarser process AMD 990 (65 nm) [].

      Nvidia also doesn't use anymore on their GPU (16nm) [].

      Seems that 28nm was used back in 2010~2011 products.

      So this stolen technology won't suddenly enable China to produce AMD/Nvidia GPU clones.

      On then other hand, China's own home made Loongson CPU [], is currently at 65nm, but some models are scaled down to 28nm (the Longsoon 3B).
      So th

  • I once worked right besides Huali's fab. Just a year ago, Huali's campus was a ghost town. They built factories worth many gigabucks, yet did not have anybody to run them. All Chinese process engineering grads are poached by Taiwanese fabs even before they graduate.

  • Western arrogance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2017 @06:58AM (#54359669)

    It's painful to watch all this oozing of western arrogance (and I say that as a Westerner, mind you).

    Kids, you seem to have forgotten Uber has just pulled off that same thing on Waymo (ex-Google). It's standard operating procedure in industry, sadly. NSA/CIA are known to have spied on behalf of US industry, and if other states' intelligence agencies haven't done so, it's for lack of means, not will.

    Just continue believing the Chinese are idiots until "they" own all intellectual property of relevance and turn the ever more draconian laws "we" have been sharpening all those years against us. Because by then, "they" will have better lawyers. You'll see who are the idiots, then.

    Or alternatively, work hard to establish a "we" in which one's person well-being hasn't to be to the detriment of others, difficult as that may seem. It should be worth it.

    • You're right, we do need our corporate and government sociopaths to wake up and see why we should protect ourselves a lot better. Giving our industrial secrets to such "gifted" foreign workers probably isn't such a good idea after all, who knew?!?
  • The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) produce the chips for the great and the good of the PC hardware market... well, specifically Nvidia and latterly AMD.

    Maybe this is early AM here, but what the hell does this even mean? I also found grammar errors including missing punctuation. Not saying that this source is incorrect, but it lost a shit ton of credibility here. Please, real news sources, guys!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 05, 2017 @07:06AM (#54359691)

    TSMC is alleging that TSMC's 28nm process was stolen. What does AMD and Nvidia have to do with it? I thought AMD spun off it's Fabs to Global Foundries (not TSMC), and if Nvidia ever had a Fab I would be surprised. They are now 'just' TSMC customers. So are a lot of other people.

    Oh. Those are the companies American people know, and some one wants to cause a ripple in their stock.
    Got it.

    • You're right, it's just a silly click bait title. Nothing was stoled from AMD or Nvidia. AMD uses mainly Globalfoundries as a foundry, but also TSMC for some products.

    • +1. Come on Slashdot editors. You're on slashdot. People know TSMC.

      You can mention some of their customers in the article, but the title should be "TSMC Secrets Allegedly Stolen .."

    • TSMC is used to manufacture Apple and Qualcomm CPUs. They also manufacture AMD and NVIDIA's GPUs. Most AMD's CPUs are manufactured at Global Foundries yes.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    TSMC built the TPM in my desktop. So that's comforting.

    • They're a chip manufacturer but they don't design chips. So blame whoever designed it and worse still whoever decided to put it in.

  • Unless that company is owned by the Chinese government, it makes a difference.

    Idiot headline writer? Or just hasty? Agenda-driven, perhaps?

    Does it matter?

  • AMD and Nvidia Silicon Are Manufacturing Secrets Allegedly Stolen, Sold To China


    AMD and Nvidia Silicon Manufacturing Secrets Are Allegedly Stolen, Sold To China

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