TSMC Engineer Charged With Stealing Trade Secrets

/ 7 years ago

TSMC Engineer Charged With Stealing Trade Secrets

A former engineer at semiconductor foundry Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has been charged with stealing trade secrets from the company, which may include technologies used by NVIDIA and AMD in their graphics cards.

According to DigiTimes, the former engineer, referred to only as Hsu, took materials related to TSMC’s 28nm process, which was used by NVIDIA in some of its Kepler and Maxwell GTX cards, and by AMD in its HD 7000, R 200, and R 300 GPUs.

“Former TSMC engineer, Hsu is accused of stealing proprietary information and other materials related to the foundry’s 28nm process technology and passing them to China-based Shanghai Huali Microelectronics (HLMC), according to the Hsinchu District Prosecutors Office,” DigiTimes reports.

Charged With Stealing Trade Secrets?

It is implied that Hsu intended to share these stolen technologies with his new employer – he left TSMC to work for HLMC – but was foiled before he began in his new position

“Hsu had accepted a job offer at Shanghai Huali Microelectronics (HLMC), but was arrested before starting the new job in Shanghai,” the DigiTimes report reveals.

“A report earlier in 2017 cited industry sources saying HLMC had headhunted a team of nearly 50 United Microelectronics (UMC) R&D engineers to help the China-based foundry move its 28nm process technology to mass production as early as possible,” the report adds. “Various reports also cited unspecified sources indicating China-based memory chipmakers have been aggressively headhunting talent from Taiwan-based DRAM and fabless companies.”

While TSMC still provides NVIDIA with 16nm wafers, AMD has eschewed the company to partner with GlobalFoundries for its 14nm needs for both its recent Polaris graphics cards (RX 400 and RX 500 Series) and its Ryzen processor family.

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