Intel took the wraps off their Sandy Bridge desktop and mobile platforms back in January and with new technologies like an improved integrated HD Graphics engine, Quick Sync video encoding and Turbo Boost 2.0 dynamic overclocking, it was obvious that Intel was shooting for more than just a performance kick. Also, though perhaps a bit more low-key than some of the consumer-targeted bells and whistles, Intel also baked in a few key enhancements in the area of enterprise management and security. Intel's vPro badge has adorned notebooks and desktops in previous generation Core processor platforms and with Intel's latest incarnation, Sandy Bridge takes vPro capabilities to the next level.
We met with Intel earlier this week to get a demo of the latest that Intel vPro has to offer, including enhanced KVM (Keyboard, Video and Mouse) remote desktop capabilities, a host-based configuration client, Intel Identity Protection technology and Anti-Theft 3.0 that takes the concept of "Lojack for your laptop" and drops in a remote kill switch. Let's roll the video and show you some of what we saw.
Also, interestingly enough, many of the demos were performed on yet to be officially announced Lenovo ThinkPad T420 notebooks with Sandy Bridge under the hood...
Intel vPro Demo - Lenovo ThinkPad in lockdown mode and HP's Elite SFF Machine
In our opinion, the more impressive parts of these demos centered around security. The ability to associate your personal machine at the hardware level, with personal identification and credentials, can mean big business in the enterprise space, where access control of hardware and software resources needs to be closely managed. You might be the type that is a little weary of the "big brother" sort of side effects that can come with this type of technology but you can bet there are IT departments clamoring for the ability to secure and user-associated their inventory at the hardware level like this.
Finally, the only demo that had a bit of a hiccup to it was Anti-Theaft 3.0. We weren't able to capture it in action because it relied on AT&T's celluar network to deliver an SMS message reliably (woops!). Regardless, we did end up seeing it in action and one of the Intel engineers was able to send a simple text message to the 3G radio in the ThinkPad T420 machine that was enabled with this technology, and put the machine into a lockdown S3 sleep state. When powered back up, the machine was completely inaccessible (bottom left image). Again this is a hardware-level security feature, so pulling a hard drive, or flashing the BIOS wouldn't get you around the encryption and rolling code algorithm that is embedded at the chipset level. In other words, you're looking at a bricked notebook; at least until our friendly IT Manager pinged the machine with another text message allowing it to come back from the dead. Impressive to say the least.
Thanks to Intel's Brian Tucker, Director of Business Platform Marketing and Loan Webb, Business Development Manager Anti-Theft Services, for the nickel-tour of the new vPro. Intel vPro-enabled systems are now shipping via major OEMs like HP and Lenovo, so Intel is putting would-be criminals on notice.