10 Partner Takeaways From Intel's 5th Generation Intel Core vPro Processor Announcement

Intel vPro Chips Take Broadwell To The Next Level

Intel's latest vPro Core chips, announced Thursday, attempted to usher an age of wire-free computing with wireless dock technology, Pro Wireless Display features and advanced PC management baked in at the chip level.

Officially called Intel's 5th Generation Intel Core vPro Processor, the new chip targets the high end of the mobile enterprise market, and also packs IT department-friendly features that enhance device security and management.

Here are 10 CPU takeaways regarding Thursday's chip announcement.

Broadwell vs. Broadwell vPro

Intel announced its Broadwell Core microprocessors at CES in early January. Thursday, Intel announced availability of the Broadwell chip aimed at enterprises that contain vPro technology.

Intel's 5th-generation Core Broadwell chips, in general, offer better battery life to laptops and support 3-D cameras, 4K graphics and PC biometric security features. At the time of the Broadwell release, Intel and OEMs didn't announce any systems with the Intel vPro technology.

vPro Explained

Intel's vPro technology is the chipmaker's management technology that it has long built into its enterprise-class CPUs, as well as several other of its products including SSDs, NICs, Wi-Fi cards and other device chipsets.

Central to vPro is Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT) that allows IT administrators to enforce individual and group policies, and perform software updates on systems. Because AMT is embedded at the hardware level of devices, Intel said, it can perform remote access on systems even when the OS is down or when the device is powered off.

New Active Management Technology Features

Intel's latest Broadwell vPro chips come with the 10.0 version of its Active Management Technology. The AMT 10.0 is exclusive to Broadwell and includes advanced functionality when paired with Intel's Solid State Drive Pro 2500 Series SSDs. Features include a location-based services editor, Windows InstantGo support that brings smartphone-like power management to PCs, the ability to blank a systems screen during remote control sessions and remote patch deployment.

Core vPro Processor Systems Shipping Now

Laptops running Intel's vPro chips with the management features are available starting this week. Intel said there are 12 OEMs selling systems with the new CPU and functionality available. One is Hewlett-Packard's Elite x2 1011, along with new Fujitsu Lifebook systems and enterprise PCs from Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Asus.

Intel Ups Security In vPro

In its latest vPro release Intel beefed up its security features, adding support for the Trusted Execution Technology and the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) specification. TPM is a microelectronic-based computer industry standard for building a cryptoprocessor, a dedicated microprocessor designed to secure hardware. The feature, Intel said, can be used to protect PCs from low-level attacks, and will be key in deploying its wireless docking and wireless display feature.

Wireless Docking

Intel's latest vPro chips support its own wireless docking technology that uses 128-bit hardware encryption to connect up to two monitors, USB 3.0 devices, and other cabled peripherals such as mouse and keyboard. The technology is based on four channels of 802.11ad (WiGig) with bandwidth capacity of 7Gbps. The wireless connection between devices occurs at the chip level (not OS), affording an extra level of security and management such as remote firmware updates.

Intel said it is working with other venders on future interoperability with other Wi-Fi alliance members on similar wire-free technologies.

Wireless Displays

Similar to Intel's current Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, its latest Intel Pro Wireless Display (Pro WiDi) technology is a variation of the standard that adds an extra level of enterprise-level privacy and security it said is needed in corporate environments.

Pro WiDi, also implemented at the chip level, supports visual confirmation of a device-to-display handshake to prevent accidental sharing of displays. It also supports sharing among multiple displays and IT administrator-level management of Pro WiDi PCs and displays.

Enhanced Identity Protection

Intel also has added an additional layer of security when it comes to identity protection. With its latest vPro chips it has hard-wired Identity Protection Technology (IPT) at the chip level, which allows for streamlined and improved implementation of multifactor authentication on devices, applications and even paired Bluetooth devices. IPT would require a hacker, for example, to have physical access to a targeted device and the device's password -- hindering the probability of successful remote attacks.

Do Intel Channel Partner Like The New Chip?

Partners characterize this latest Broadwell release as an interim chip that fills an important hole as customers anticipate the release of Intel's next-gen chip Skylake, expected later this year.

"Intel is driving an enterprise mobile stake in the ground with this Broadwell release. It's feeling the heat on the low end of the mobile market from ARM and is sending a signal to its enterprise customers that Intel is going to continue to innovate and add value where its competitors just can't," said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based system builder.

"We expect some interest in this chip, but where we see most interest, and hope for driving PC sales, is with the Skylake," Swank said.

Cord-Cutting Reality Check?

With this latest release, Intel is tackling what partners say is the Holy Grail of IT headaches -- the snake pit of cords that power and connect PCs and gadgets. But how long will it take for consumers to benefit from this enterprise wireless trend.

"While incremental, this latest release shows a great deal of promise when it comes to addressing the needs not only of corporate users, but also consumers down the road," said Randy Copeland, CEO of Velocity Micro, a high-performance PC builder and Intel partner based in Richmond, Va. "Enterprise and enthusiasts are grappling with a patchwork of third-party security technology. If Intel can make mobile computing more secure, and at the same time get rid of unwanted cables, that becomes extremely attractive to any PC user."