In his pre-show keynote at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich outlined a range of the company’s new products, initiatives and strategic relationships aimed at accelerating innovation across a range of mobile and wearable devices, and challenged the entire electronics industry to join Intel in becoming “conflict-free.”
The CEO also discussed how Intel is addressing two critical issues casting shadows over the consumer electronics industry: data and device security and conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He said Intel had achieved a critical milestone and the minerals used in microprocessor silicon and packages manufactured in Intel's factories are "conflict-free" as concluded by third-party audits or direct validation by Intel's supply chain organization.
"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. "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. Even though we have reached this milestone, it is just a start. We will continue our audits and resolve issues that are found."
Violent conflict has been raging in the DRC for over 14 years, claiming more than five million lives. According to a report to the UN Security Council Committee, a source of funding for local armed groups includes the trade of the four so-called "conflict minerals" — tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold — which are key components in many kinds of products, including electronics.
Krzanich said Intel has implemented a process within its supply chain organization to validate that its sources — the smelters that provide the four minerals used in microprocessor silicon and packages manufactured in Intel factories — are not inadvertently funding this conflict in the DRC. The company is also a member of the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative run by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition. Krzanich challenged the entire electronics industry to join Intel in its efforts.
"This is not an issue we would normally be talking about at CES. But it's an issue that is important to me," Krzanich said.
Krzanich's keynote also painted a vision of how the landscape of computing is being re-shaped and where security is too important not to have it embedded in all devices. The world is entering an era of integrated computing defined not by the device, but by the integration of technology into people's lifestyles in ways that offer new utility and value. As examples, he highlighted a range of initiatives and partnerships aimed at accelerating the development of wearable technologies; and Intel® RealSense™ technology, a new family of hardware and software products with “human senses” that Intel will begin offering this year.
Investors representing more than $450 billion of the world’s assets continually expressed their support last year for the "Conflict Minerals" final rule, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Issued by the SEC in August 2012, Rule 1502 details how corporations must report on their use of conflict minerals sourced from eastern DRC. Companies are required to send the SEC their first Conflict Minerals Reports in May 2014.