Intel revamps Core vPro enterprise chips

Intel's 2011 vPro processors, which will also extend into the Xeon line, have been given performance, management and security boosts over their predecessors
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Intel has updated its business-oriented Core vPro processor range with the same Sandy Bridge architecture that is already underpinning the company's consumer-focused second-generation Core chips.

The revamped vPro line was launched on Monday, with Intel claiming boosts in application, multi-tasking and data-encryption speeds, as well as in security and management capabilities. Dell, Fujitsu, HP and Lenovo are all planning to release laptops, convertible tablets, desktops and all-in-one PCs using the new processors, the chipmaker said.

In addition, Intel's vPro technology will be extended into the upcoming Xeon E3-1200 product family, the company announced. Intel is pitching the move as adding professional-level graphics to the processor in entry-level workstations.

The Intel Core vPro processor family "readies businesses for major changes to come in such areas as desktop virtualisation, cloud computing and the complementary relationship between PCs and the growing variety of other computing devices", Intel's architecture chief Rick Echevarria said in a statement.

Intel's statement compared a laptop using the new Core vPro i5-2520M processor (second-generation Core chips are generally distinguishable from the first generation by having four rather than three numbers in their model name suffix) with one using a Core 2 Duo T7250 processor, which is almost four years old. It said the newer laptop will be able to handle business applications 60 percent faster, multi-tasking scenarios 100 percent faster and data encryption 300 percent faster.

The company has not provided any benchmarks or statistics comparing the new Core vPro processors and their immediate predecessors. However, it has stated that the business application productivity figures come from SYSmark 2007 testing, the multi-tasking claims from PCMark Vantage testing and the encryption stats from SiSoftware Sandra 2010 testing.

New features

The updated Core vPro processors have several new management features. The Keyboard-Video-Mouse (KVM) Remote Control now lets a remote technician see the worker's screen in higher resolution, and a new Host-Based Configuration feature automates the setting up of vPro functions on PCs, so thousands of computers can be configured simultaneously.

The rest of the new features in the revamped Core vPro line can also be found in the consumer-grade second-generation Core range. Version 3.0 of Intel's Anti-Theft Technology, for example, lets an authorised administrator send a 'poison pill' piece of code, which completely disables a lost or stolen PC by text message. In earlier versions, the code had to be sent over the internet.

The anti-theft system now also has a capability called Locator Beacon, which makes use of the GPS technology in some 3G modems. Another new feature is aimed at PCs that go missing while in standby — such systems can now ask for an encryption log-in.

Some of the new processors also include Intel's Identity Protection Technology, which generates a new six-digit numerical password every 30 seconds in order to supplement normal password procedures with something more secure.

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