Intel scrubs up mineral supplies

Michael Carroll
08 Jan 2014

Intel is now “conflict free” when it comes to sourcing minerals for chipset production, chief executive Brian Krzanich says.

External and internal audits of Intel’s supply chain confirm it no longer uses so-called ‘conflict’ minerals to produce microprocessor silicon and packages, Krzanich told delegates in a keynote on the eve of the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The firm has implemented processes to validate its supply of tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold, following a United Nations report suggesting a link between the mineral trade and funding of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.

“Two years ago, I told several colleagues that we needed a hard goal, a commitment to reasonably conclude that the metals used in our microprocessors are conflict-free,” Krzanich said, adding. “We felt an obligation to implement changes in our supply chain to ensure that our business and our products were not inadvertently funding human atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Intel’s chief also revealed the firm will phase out the McAfee security brand in favor of a new Intel Security brand. Current McAfee products will be migrated to the new division, however the firm’s distinctive red shield is to be retained.

“The complexity of keeping digital identities safe grows as mobile applications and devices become a more important part of our daily lives,” Krzanich said, adding that Intel plans to develop security products for smartphones and wearable devices.

Intel is also launching a new Quark-based computer in SD-card format which Krzanich says will boost uptake of wearable devices. Intel Edison features built-in wireless features, and can run multiple operating systems. “Wearables are not everywhere today because they aren’t yet solving real problems and they aren’t yet integrated with our lifestyles,” Krzanich told delegates.

Krzanich also demonstrated ear buds with biometric and fitness capabilities, a headset that connects to personal assistant technologies, and a wireless charging bowl.

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