A Fist Full of Silicon, Intel’s OEM Engineers To Sample Prison Life…

Engineering Samples, these unreleased CPU’s are intended to allow Intel’s partners to perfect the next generation gadgets, they are a rare and treasured beast that are never intended for public sale. Like a classic Clint Eastwood western the double cross is not something that Intel takes lightly, being caught selling Intel’s next generation technology to it’s competitors for Intel is the ultimate betrayal. So as you can imagine when Intel discovered that it had been double crossed by employees of one of it’s OEM business partners in Taiwan it’s wraith was fast and fierce. Working with Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau – CIB – the four suspects were quickly tracked down and taken into custody in the city of Taoyuan.

The four suspects by all accounts were seemingly intelligent engineers working for one of Intel’s major OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturers who turn Intel’s chips into the gadgets we all love – Criminal masterminds they were not though. Selling the chips on EBay in full public view doesn’t display the normal criminal flare required for such an operation. Especially when you consider they sold the chips for an average of $400 each, when AMD would have written a blank cheque to get their hands on the samples which included Intel’s latest 22nm chips which are due for public release later this year.


The CIB had been investigating the men since September, Intel had obviously brought it too their attention. Intel refuses to comment on the situation so we may never know when they stumbled across the Oceans 4 Stooges gang. When the CIB raided the men’s homes in December 178 samples were recovered with an estimated street value of $85,000. Since 2009 the men are thought to have sold over 500 samples, a nice little earner indeed till they got caught. Taiwan takes its commercial business laws very seriously, with the four suspects facing up to 5 years in prison each if convicted.

Engineering Samples are like crack for Noids, with any self respecting gadget lover always wanting to be the first with the latest technology. Engineering Samples represent that next generation technology, often available 6 months before the final product hits the market. Here at Highpants we love to beat everyone to the tech punch, to get the scoop and engineering samples represent just that opportunity. The availability of such early samples also represents an enormous risk to Intel’s intellectual property. While most of the samples were sold to Joe public or anxious journalists the CIB is also investigating the sale of Intel’s pre-release chips to competitor AMD who could gain advantage through understanding exactly what Intel’s next generation products can do.

Now all of the Engineering Samples have disappeared from EBay’s listings, the bad guys have been rounded up and the anti-hero hero gets to ride off into the sunset on it’s silicon horse. As the closing scenes for this tale unfold, as the credits roll up the silver screen and the audience leaves the theater we here at Highpants wonder if four little Taiwanese engineers are on a slow boat to China as we speak.