Intel to release Core VPro processors in Q1

The new chips will be based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, and will come in dual-core and quad-core variants

Intel on Wednesday said it would release in the first quarter next year Core VPro processors for business desktops and laptops that incorporate a host of new security and management features.

The new chips will come in dual-core and quad-core variants, and will be based on the company's upcoming Sandy Bridge architecture, which integrates a graphics processing unit inside the CPU, company executives said.

Laptops and desktops with the vPro platform combine hardware and software technology to manage and secure PCs through wired or wireless networks. The new platform provides a better visual experience and enhanced security and remote support capabilities for easier maintenance and support of a fleet of PCs, said Rick Echevarria, vice president of the Intel Architecture Group.

The new processors also will improve PC performance significantly, Echevarria said, though he declined to provide benchmark details.

Another new feature is host-based activation, which enables PCs to be configured remotely in a matter of minutes, Echevarria said. The new VPro platform builds on improvements from its predecessors and will reduce the support time of PCs, he said. For example, an IT administrator would be able to install Windows 7 on 10,000 laptops overnight, Echevarria said.

The platform introduces new features such as Anti-Theft 3.0 (AT 3.0), which combines hardware and software to remotely disable systems when they are lost or stolen. The new hardware allows help desks to remotely shut down laptops over 3G networks, even when an OS is not running. Earlier Anti-Theft versions were able to communicate with remote PCs over wired and Wi-Fi networks. The new features can prevent a remote PC from booting even if the hard drive is replaced.

AT 3.0 also puts in place higher levels of authentication for PCs coming out of sleep mode.

The integrated graphics capability brings a better visual experience to support tasks, Echevarria said. Earlier this year Intel added the KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) capability to VPro, which helps remote support staff take control of remote PCs and supports a resolution of 1600 by 1200 pixels. The new integrated graphics processor helps support a full high-definition resolution, which gives support personnel a richer graphics experience when trying to resolve issues on remote PCs.

There are many old PCs in businesses waiting to be replaced, and the Sandy Bridge processors will provide an incentive for companies to buy new machines, Echevarria said. That could help boost the adoption of VPro, he said.

However, many companies still aren't exploiting the full capabilities of VPro to speed up system support, he said. For example, companies still are not exploiting the AES-NI instruction set in the new VPro chips introduced earlier this year to speed up encryption capabilities.

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