Intel's vPro takes aim at enterprise desktops

Intel officially launched its vPro PC architecture to the local market yesterday, saying the new technology will alleviate client software and security management.

A vPro-compliant system incorporates a combination of the Core 2 Duo processor, Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT) and virtualization technology, the new Q965 Express chipset, Intel's gigabit networking.

Among other things, the technology lets desktop administrators remotely control software updates and patches, isolate the machine from the network, and turn the machine on and off.

Intel's customer solutions group regional manager, Brett Hannath said speed is not the primary reason enterprises buy desktops, but rather the ease with which they can be managed and secured.

The company is hoping that enterprises' requests for tenders for PC fleets will include vPro as a standard requirement.

"Software can manage fleets of PCs but if the PC is off, can these tools respond?" Hannath queried. "With vPro, companies can check their assets even if the power is off. IT departments can wake up PCs, push updates, and then shut them down, all overnight."

By integrating management processors into the hardware, vPro lets administrators remotely access the PC "console" so "even if there is a blue screen of death" the PC can be controlled.

Hannath said vPro has been in development for the past three years and has software installed in the computers firmware that integrates with enterprise management tools from companies like Altiris and BMC Software.

The firmware also includes an embedded Web server for communication via HTTP to and from the PC.

For asset management, the machine's ID is stored in the firmware which is encrypted, according to Hannath.

PC makers including Acer, HP, and Lenovo have started introducing vPro-enabled desktop PCs for the mainstream business market.

Notebooks, however, won't appear until early 2007 when the new Intel Centrino Duo mobile platform, codenamed Santa Rosa, starts rolling off OEM production lines. This will allow "over the air" management of notebooks connected via wireless networks.

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