At an event held in San Francisco earlier today, Intel's Tom Garrison heralded the benefits of his company's sixth-generation Skylake vPro processors for business users. While these CPUs are not brand-new (they came out at the same time as the rest of Intel's Skylake lineup this past fall), the company has waited until now to roll out a couple of feature enhancements, as well as discuss the general benefits enterprises could enjoy by upgrading.
The overtone of Intel's event focused on a singular fact: upgrading a 5-year-old machine can introduce dramatic and immediate benefits. Versus that 5-year-old machine, today's 6th-gen vPro processors are 2.5x faster and enjoy 3x the battery-life. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the graphics performance has increased 30x. Even the wake-up speed is being brought into this: a gain of 4x can be expected.
Lenovo's ThinkPad Helix convertible notebook will feature Intel's 6th vPro CPUs
Those perks are nice, but the ecosystem that surrounds them can be even better. Because of these low-power/high-performance chips, companies are able to deploy their smallest systems ever. These small boxes can fit nicely on a desk, under a desk (or perhaps on a shelf), or even clip to the back of a monitor, completely invisible to the user. Despite these small design wins, the latest vPro processors bring some serious benefits to enterprise customers, including top-rate security and privacy-protection features.
One such feature is Intel's Authenticate, which is in what we'd call a beta test right now. With Intel Authenticate, IT staff can configure how a user gains access to a system without the need of a password. If a thumbprint is deemed secure enough, systems can be configured with it as the only requirement. If policies require enhanced security, geolocation, PIN, and proximity limitations can be added in as well. Ultimately, this makes it easier on employees because advanced passwords don't need to be remembered, but the security will be greatly improved at the same time.
This ties into other vPro security features, with Intel calling the overall package "a virtual shield," one that goes well beyond software, and has many important features baked right into the hardware.
Intel also gave an update on its Unite initiative, which allows other companies to create products that work well with Intel systems. Logitech was a major name dropped, as it has a number of conference-related products that abide by the same overall goals of vPro: easy to implement, easy to secure, and easy to take advantage of.
Before wrapping-up, Intel also talked a bit about its SBA, or Small Business Advantage. This is another set of tools that Intel hopes will help small or medium businesses grow. It includes collaboration software, chat and file share, and features like a USB blocker to help keep internal PCs secure from external hardware.
If there's one thing to take away from these new vPro processors, it's that they're the "best business processor, ever" per Intel. It's hard to disagree given the incredible featureset they have. In particular, the Intel Authenticate could prove to be a massive boon to enterprise security, and seems like a feature that should be rolled out as soon as possible in any business.