When Intel released its new consumer-oriented second-generation Core (AKA "Sandy Bridge") CPUs in January, it seemed likely that the "professional" version would be just around the bend. Today Intel has introduced just that, with its new second-generation Core vPro family of processors.
Though based on the same microarchitecture as the consumer chips, and utilizing technologies such improved media handling, Advanced Vector Extensions, Quick Sync Video for energizing media manipulation, and the enhanced Turbo Boost for increasing performance when not all processing cores are being utilized, vPro processors also include a number of extras that are geared specifically towards business users.
These include a new Host-Based Configuration feature that automates the process of setting up vPro functions on new PCs. According to Intel, "thousands of computers can be configured simultaneously in a couple of minutes." Also present is a new Keyboard-Video-Mouse Remote Control feature that lets a remote technician assist a user—now in higher definitions than ever before, compensating for jobs requiring use of HD video and larger screen sizes.
For users who rely on laptops to be their system at and away from the office, Intel has introduced Anti-Theft Technology Version 3.0, which introduces three new ways to protect systems. It lets authorized IT or service technicians completely disable a lost or stolen computer and prevent access to its valuable data, and then reactivate it later, all by using an encrypted and authenticated SMS message. The new Locator Beacon function helps authorities determine the precise location of a missing laptop using GPS technology on select 3G modems. And standby protection can require an encrypted login, so that if a laptop goes missing while it's in standby, it's still guarded by an extra layer of security.
[RELATED_ARTICLE]Some vPro processors will also incorporate Identity Protection Technology, which reduces phishing attacks and instances of unlawful access by generating a six-digit numerical password every 30 seconds that only the proper target knows.
Intel claims that a new Core vPro i5 CPU can speed business applications by 60 percent, multitasking by 100 percent, and data encryption by 300 percent. Among the first new processor families to take advantage of these updates is the Xeon E3-1200, which Intel is calling the first entry-level workstation platform that integrates "professional-level graphics onto the processor."
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