Intel Updates vPro Chips

New chipsets make remote management easier than before, with virtualization a particular consideration.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel has announced the latest generation of its vPro chipset for business computers, with enhancements across its feature sets, particularly in the areas of virtualization. Systems that incorporate the new chipset should be available this coming week from major desktop computer vendors.

vPro is a support technology for software and hardware inventory management, designed to make it simpler to manage computers from a central location. It uses an out of band communication protocol called Intel Active Management Technology that allows for access to the computer regardless of the OS state.

This latest version is part and parcel of some new Intel (Quote) chips being delivered. Developed under the codename "Weybridge," the new vPro involves a new Core 2 Duo processor, the E6x50 line, the Q35 Express chipset and Intel82566DM gigabit networking.

The new vPro features include updated Active Management Technology (AMT), support for the Desktop Mobile Working Group and WS-MAN standards and Intel Trusted Execution Technology, or TXT (formerly codenamed "LaGrande").

vPro addresses three issues, according to Robert Crooke, vice president and general manager of the business client group at Intel: security, management and energy reduction. vPro can better isolate virtualized systems from the network and from the different environments on one system. Crooke detailed the vPro news at a media event here Friday.

For starters, security in a virtualized world runs above the OS layer but has no hooks into the OS. vPro, sitting on the metal, hooks into the OS. Also, it adds a hardware security layer between virtual machines, so a threat on one machine can't get at other virtual machines.

This is something that defense contractor General Dynamics likes about the new vPro. "Software-only security features always present a security risk," said Mike Maschino, a systems architect for GD's C4 Systems division. "There is no way to have utterly secure software [security] only. So putting security in the hardware is a strong selling point for the government."

The Trusted Execution Technology makes sure that what you launch hasn't been modified or compromised, from the virtual machine to the applications. Also, it can enforce isolation of a virtual machine so that memory is cleared out even if the virtual machine did not shut down properly.

The new vPro is EnergyStar 4.0 compliant, offering reduced power consumption over the previous version while offering 30 percent more performance. With the Active Management Technology, repair work can be done totally out of band. Computers that are off can be turned on remotely, patches issued and even the BIOS (define) accessed remotely.

Intel claims the new vPro requires 94 percent reduction in time needed to patch, a 91 percent reduction in desk visits by IT, 98 percent less down time from software issues and 94 percent success in after-hours system inventory.

Jim McGregor, senior analyst with In-Stat, said this is a good evolutionary step. "The whole manageability and security aspects of PCs have been evolving for 15 years now and they are finally getting to a point where it's native to the hardware," he told internetnews.com. "Previously they've all been software solutions and whatever you do in software, someone can get around it."

This article was first published on InternetNews.com.






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