Intel Introduces Core vPro Family, Aims to Woo SMBs

Intel today formally introduced its next-generation of vPro security and PC management technology, shipping the technology as part of a new processor line.

vPro is a combination of technologies, enhancements, management and security features for managing a PC remotely.

With the latest enhancements — which include new wireless, anti-theft and management features — Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) said it’s aiming to broaden the scope of vPro, which it’s now targeting at the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market in addition to the enterprise.

“Why push SMB? We’ve got 70 percent of the Global 500 with vPro already. A lot of people think of vPro as an enterprise solution, but it’s not just for enterprises — it’s for all-size businesses,” said Rick Echevarria, vice president of Intel’s Architecture Group and general manager of the Digital Office Platform Division, speaking during a videoconference with the press.

The Intel Core vPro processor family consists of new Intel Core i5/i7 processors based on the Westmere generation of desktop and mobile chips. The rest of the platform includes the new Intel Q57 Express chipset, and new 82577LM Gigabit Network Connection for notebooks and Intel 82578DM Network Connection for desktop PCs. Systems are also available with the Core i5/i7 but without those chipsets.

Intel introduced a new wireless chipset and adapters that will work in conjunction with these products. The Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 and Centrino Advanced-N 6200 802.11n WLAN adapters offer multi-stream Wi-Fi capabilities and speeds of up to 450 Mbps for the 6300 and 300 Mbps for the 6200.

The company also showed off the Intel Centrino Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250 adapter, which it said offers a maximum of 20-Mbps WiMAX and advanced 802.11a/b/g/n wireless Wi-Fi, with speeds topping out at 300 Mbps. They are all designed to support the networking features in vPro.

The Core i5/i7 processors also feature Turbo Boost, which shuts off unused cores and kicks up the clock speed for cores in use when necessary for a heavy workload. They also recognize idle mode and shut down the cores into a low-power state. vPro has built-in intelligence to recognize a variety of these scenarios and adjust the power and clock speed accordingly.

vPro’s Intel Anti-Theft Technology, now in its second generation, focuses on data. The first generation was more hardware-oriented, with the ability to disable it or wipe it remotely, according to Rick Echevarria, vice president of Intel’s Architecture Group and general manager of the Digital Office Platform Division, who spoke during a videoconference with the press.

This second generation is centered around data protection. Working in partnership with data element companies like RSA and Symantec, Intel is better able to “hide the keys to protect the data.” Instead of the drastic step of wiping a system remotely, there is the option of locking up access to the data so if the laptop is recovered, the data is still there. Anti-Theft makes it easier to restore the system after it has been disabled.

Other new vPro features include keyboard, video and mouse support that enables an IT manager to remotely access the laptop even if it has crashed and Windows won’t load. The vPro update also includes support for AES encryption, support for which Intel added as a standard feature of the Westmere CPU.

Another new addition, PC Alarm Clock, can wake up a system at a predetermined time to perform maintenance, security and other tasks on its own.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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