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Corner Office

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich on ‘silicon leadership’

Kai Ryssdal Oct 1, 2014
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Intel has been around for a long time: 

 

Intel’s chips are still inside PCs, the guts of tablets, wearables, and increasingly, smart cars and refrigerators. They’re not the shiny Gorilla glass or sleek brushed aluminum on the outside, but rather, the stuff that makes our stuff run. 

 

When you talk to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, head of a tech company that’s older than Larry Page, his tone is less flashy pitchman with a slide deck and more the engineer’s precise graphs. Not least because Intel feels a kind of looming responsibility toward Moore’s Law—the notion that chip capacity will double every 18 months—coined by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. Krzanich mentions Moore’s Law at least three times during our interview. It’s on his mind. A lot. 

 

He also uses the phrase “silicon leadership” to describe Intel’s role in the industry. We asked him what it means, and he said: “When you’re the first guy to put out the piece of silicon that’s half as expensive, or twice as powerful, you bring a capability to the market that nobody else does, or can.” 

 

In addition to measuring out the nanometers and nodes that allow chips to continue to shrink in size and cost, Intel has given itself the challenge of removing conflict minerals from its supply chain by 2016. Smart phones, chips, and other gadgets rely on metals like tungsten and gold, which are often mined in countries with persistent civil conflicts, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Before becoming CEO last May, Krzanich ran the supply chain for Intel, when the company removed conflict minerals from its microprocessors.  

 

“Back then we’d didn’t even know how to do it, what the process was, or whether it could be done. We’ve done that,” he said. 

 

When it comes to removing conflict minerals from every other product, Krzanich insists it will get done by 2016. 

 

“We have now a fairly long list of everything that needs to become conflict-free. We’re simply mapping its supply chain, knowing where each metal comes from, and yes, we’ll get there. But it’ll be close.”

 

When asked to describe Intel in five words or fewer, Krzanich said, “We make everything connected and smart.”

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