At the WSJ D. Live conference held recently NXP CEO Richard Clemmer and Renee James sat to discuss various issues one of them was Chinese hack story leaked by Bloomberg. The former president of Intel and current CEO of data center chip startup Ampere refused to believe that it was impractical for China to insert spying chips while manufacturing the servers meant for US companies. The issues of semiconductor manufacturing are too complex a matter to be hacked just like that. Both Richard and Renee further maintained that semiconductors are far too automated and secure to be hacked for them to be embedded onto technology without anyone taking notice.
Renee James on Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal D. Live technology conference in Laguna Beach, California remarked jokingly that one just doesn’t insert something into a chip! The level of complexity on hardware is too high today, and it is virtually impossible as parts are meant to go with each other.
Renee went onto remark that even though her current designation is the CEO of Ampere (earlier president of Intel), she would need an actual clearance to walk into a manufacturing facility. No one can easily walk into an assembly line without obtaining a clearance.
Further addressing the rumor, NXP’s Clemmer mentioned that it is “not practical” to believe that China is embedding chips onto technology and spying as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek. The reports alleged that Chinese spy chips were allegedly used to collect intellectual property, metadata, and trade secrets from companies such as Apple and Amazon Web Services that provides cloud computing services.
The reports alleged that spy chips were found in servers assembled in China for a US establishment called Super Micro. This could have bee subject to a secret US government investigation that began in 2015. Apple came out in defense to the Congress immediately after the report and maintained that Apple was never hacked. Amazon and Super Micro also called for Bloomberg to retract the story.
Tim Cook said that he personally spoke to Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell (ex-general counsel) and answered each of their questions personally. Tim maintained that each time they were questioned by Bloomberg, they investigated the case and found nothing.