Intel offers details on stable image management program

IT managers will be able to purchase a PC with new hardware from Intel Corp. without having to change that PC's software image for 12 months after the release of Intel's hardware, under Intel's new Stable Image Platform Program (SIPP), introduced earlier this year as Granite Peak.

Intel has released details about its Stable Image Platform Program (SIPP), designed to let companies purchase a PC with new Intel hardware without having to change that PC's software image for 12 months.

The Santa Clara, California, chip maker said that the program, introduced earlier this year as Granite Peak, will incorporate Intel's 855 chipset for notebooks, and its 865G chipset for desktops to start. The company promises to limit "major technology modifications," such as new hardware, during the 12-month period so IT managers can be confident about rolling out a stable set of images across their network, Intel said in a release.

A software image is a picture of the specific code present on a corporation's PCs, including the operating system, applications, and compilers that control the processor and other components. Corporations load software images onto the PCs they purchase in order to have a standard set of applications and hardware across their network.

Typically, corporations buying in bulk can't always be assured that their current image will always be available from a vendor, said Roger Kay, vice president of client computing for IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts. Hardware updates are released, operating systems are revised, and applications are patched, leading to changes in that image, he said.

Since PCs usually don't fail at the same exact time, this leads to a mixture of software images across a network, which means IT managers can't guarantee compatibility across all PCs if they want to roll out new hardware or software to their users, Kay said.

Intel is promising to hold up their end of the bargain by promising that it will keep one chipset as its standard offering for 12 months after that chipset is introduced, he said. "In the past, Intel has been more part of the problem than the solution. But hopefully this is a blow for image stability," he said.

The SIPP initiative will start retroactively to cover the 855 chipset, launched in March, and the 865G chipset, launched in May. Those chipsets will be available with standard software drivers for 12 months, and will present the same compatible image across a network if any minor changes need to be made, Intel said. The company will also give IT managers advance warning of new chipsets coming out down the road, it said.

The program was first introduced under the name Granite Peak at Intel's Spring Intel Developer Forum in February.

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