Intel Unveils Second-Generation Core V-Pro Processors

Intel on Monday rolled-out its second-generation Core VPro processors for laptops and desktops, featuring a number of enterprise and SMB-oriented capabilities, including integrated security, manageability and desktop virtualization.

"Over the last four years, Intel has updated its hardware with hardware-assisted virtualization optimized to use on any and all new virtualization software from Citrix, VMware, and Windows," said Rick Echevarria, vice president of Intel Architecture Group, and general manager of Intel's Business Client Platform Division, in a conference call. "No one size fits all when it comes to virtualization, therefore Intel vPro offers the flexibility to deploy a combination of desktop virtualization models."

Echevarria said Intel's vPro platform takes data center infrastructure and accommodates a variety of virtualization products for what Intel calls Intelligent Clients, increasing server scaling, reducing CPU usage and delivering an improved user experience while also improving total cost of operation, scalability and manageability for the small business IT manager.

Intel says the vPro processors will be especially useful to small businesses and channel partners looking to serve the SMB space. "SMBs represent a great opportunity for vPro," said Eric Townsend, SMB Market Development Manager. "A lot of vPro solutions are intended to address not only large enterprises but SMB customers, and the channel is going to be in a position to deliver a number of great solutions using vPro technology."

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Despite the trend towards the consumerization of IT, Intel says enterprise users still want to maintain a professional standard by issuing corporate PCs with enterprise-specific features. "The more SMBs we talk to, the more clear it is to us that they're looking for differentiation with consumer systems," said Camille Morhardt, SMB marketing manager at Intel. "Having more secure systems is quite obviously critical to a small business. Clearly there's some overlap between consumer and business, but security is the lifeblood for small businesses."

According to Intel, MSPs will be able to leverage Intel Core vPro Technology to remotely diagnose, isolate and repair infected systems, regardless of whether the OS or the hard drive is operative. Intel's vPro technology includes Keyboard Video Mouse (KVM) remote control with support for additional HD video and screen formats, so that IT administrators can view and operate a PC remotely.

"IT professionals looking for faster, smarter and more remotely controlled processor technology can turn to vPro," Etcheveria said. "With remote KVM, they have the ability to get into clients' machines whenever they want to assist clients. It allows them to stay agile and reduce costs by using automation to improve innovation."

Next: Virtualization And Cloud Computing

Intel says MSPs can help implement desktop virtualization running Core vPro processors, and ensure that the configuration of the system matches up with the user's particular requirements. "Silicon capabilities have been built into the platform to support virtualization," Townsend said. "We want to provide one platform, a flexible foundation, to deploy a number of virtualization models. We're also working on the interaction of end-point and back-end through intelligent infrastructure, re-directing workloads to improve efficiency, lower costs and offer a better experience to end users."

In addition to built-in support for virtualization software, Echevarria said Intel's vPro platform is optimized for cloud-computing purposes. "Core vPro processors provide a flexible foundation for private cloud computing and public cloud computing," Echevarria said. "Thus Core vPro addresses the growing trend towards client-awareness."

Townsend said client-awareness involves the real-time dynamic delivery of services through cloud infrastructure, making sure those services and applications are being delivered and adding intelligence to applications and services. As a result, client devices can monitor the richness of media content being delivered into a given end point, or they can check connection speeds and battery-life levels in order to determine the kind of experience being delivered to that end point.

Intel said the vPro platform allows companies to meet their bottom line by mobilizing their workforce, bringing the vPro's enterprise features to a range of consumer-oriented mobile devices, and ensuring the protection of their data while moving IT operations to managed service providers (MSPs).

Echevarria said remote KVM on the vPro platform includes support for full high-definition resolutions, as well as ten times faster server desktop response time in some cases. Intel Core vPro processors now offer host-based configuration, a capability which simplifies the configuration of vPro and allows users to set-up several systems quickly and simultaneously. "Host-based configuration enables automated capability by back-boarding to previous generation core vPro processors released in 2010," he said.

In addition, Diane Bryant, Intel vice president and chief information officer, said Intel is looking to embrace consumerization by offering a balance of productivity and security for IT shops that have a clear obligation to secure their enterprise's assets. "We're enterprising consumer solutions, making sure that they're ready for the true rigors of enterprise environments," she said. "Active management, security, and virtualization are all the foundation of v-Pro technology."

Next: Enhanced Performance And Threading

Intel says its second-generation Core vPro family will allow small business to speed up multi-tasking by up to 2X, run business productivity applications that are up to 60 percent faster, and encrypt data up to four times faster. Core vPro technology integrates Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, which automatically adapts performance levels to the end user's specific requirements, as well as Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, allowing each core to perform two tasks at one time.

Intel said small businesses are migrating to Windows 7 OS, and that Intel's Core vPro allows IT to remotely wake up PCs, remotely manage their systems, leverage Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics capability, and increase productivity through multi-tasking. Windows 7 migration is still a work in progress for many IT professionals looking for stronger security, productivity and maintenance, according to Echevarria, but as the economy improves, Intel expects to see greater Windows 7 momentum and for VPro to help accelerate that migration.

Intel said the emergence of mobile solutions and the mobile workforce has added to the demand for security features geared toward the event of a misplaced or stolen laptop. "Mobile devices continue to drive business computing, enabling the use of enterprise applications and data access on the go, which adds up to fifty minutes of additional productivity each day," Echevarria said. "However, the exposure of corporate data on mobile devices makes it challenging for IT managers trying to secure those devices. With Intel Core vPro inside, next generation Core PCs are giving IT divisions what they need to protect data on the inside, while giving users the capabilities they need on the outside, with the goal of enterprising consumer solutions."

Intel said its Anti-theft Technology 3.0 includes the new capability for users to re-enable laptops using 3G SMS text messages, and help law enforcement locate missing laptops using GPS coordinates. It also includes Anti-Theft standby protection, adding new passwords and encryption technology to the activation of PCs from standby mode. Townsend said Intel's Anti-Theft technology is aimed at verticals such as health care and the legal profession with particularly sensitive data. He said that Intel last year worked hand-in-hand with MSPs impacting thousands of SMBs and saw the way end customers were experiencing many benefits from previous generation Core vPro technology.

"Security for vPro will be very dynamic and evolving," Townsend said. "Encryption, asset management, and better protection technology are the three pillars of security for vPro technology, "The platform includes anti-theft 3.0 added capabilities, as well as location technology and standby security, to address this ever-evolving space."

Townsend said there are many different use cases for vPro, but Intel's SMB customers who have seen the technology tend to gravitate toward the remote KVM feature as well as security capabilities. "SMBs want MSPs to control their costs, and reduce their risk, while offering faster response time to security issues," Townsend said. "It saves money on their bottom line to be able to handle things remotely. They don't have to pay for gas or transportation or cover any of those costs."

Next: Security And Data Encryption

Bryant said that the use of encrypted devices remotely managed by IT was tested at Intel and will become increasingly common in workplace environments. She said that since secure collaboration is critical to productivity, the need to secure employees' own IT devices will grow, as companies seek controlled access to corporate data stored inside a range of corporate as well as consumer devices. "The PC with VPro technology is going to become the secure productivity hub, as solutions move from consumer to enterprise," she said. "V-Pro will run on companion devices such as tablets and smartphones, bringing a new level of built-in security to mobile solutions."

Intel said its AES-NI technology accelerates encryption operations for faster and more secure data encryption and decryption using the Advanced Encryption Standard. According to Etcheveria, both Core i5 and Core i7 Intel vPro processors offer about four times faster encryption compared to the previous Core 2 Duo processors. "The best security is one that's transparent to users," he said. "Local intelligence built-into the PC systems are able to protect systems from potential theft. Along with Intel Anti-Theft 3.0 with standby authentication, stay tuned for more Intel identity theft technology coming to the Core vPro."

In addition, systems with Core vPro processors will be available on the market soon, Etcheveria said.