Intel launches Core vPro processors

Intel has officially launched the second generation of its Core vPro processor family, which packs the technology and performance improvements of its Sandy Bridge architecture with security and identity protection technologies primarily aimed at businesses, but which may benefit consumers too. Among the new vPro’s capabilities is a new “poison pill” function that can disable a processor via a SMS message sent over a 3G cellular network in the event a machine is stolen.

“Businesses face numerous challenges today, but also opportunities in the wealth of new technologies that are helping workers be more productive, businesses to be more creative, and IT to be more innovative,” said Intel architecture group VP and general manager Rick Echevarria, in a statement. “The new Core vPro processor family has the capacity to offload tasks or even better share them to get the most from companion devices. With such performance, the PC could be a service provider, coordinating encryption, virus scanning, near transparent syncs and remote control.”

Like the Sandy Bridge Intel Core processors that Intel has already shipped for consumer PCs (and, subsequently, had to recall due to a flaw), the new Intel Core vPro line features enhanced Turbo Boost 2.0 technology, along with new Intel Advanced Vector Extensions that the company says can speed business applications by as much as 60 percent and multitasking by up to 100 percent—at least comparing a new Intel Core VPro Core i5 to its previous Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Intel says encryption can also be handled up to 300 percent faster.

Intel has also introduced its Anti-Theft Technology 3.0, which will work not only on the new Intel Core vPro processors but also the consumer-oriented second-generation Intel Core systems. The new version of the anti-theft technology enables “authorized IT or service personnel” to send a special SMS message via 3G cellular networks that can shut down a machine in the event it’s lost or stolen, disabling the system and preventing access to encrypted data. With the new version, the system can now be unlocked in the event the machine is recovered. Systems can also be set up to require an encryption login when woken up from a standby state.

The Core vPro and second-generation Intel Core chips also support Intel’s new Identity Protection Technology by generating a new six-digit numerical password every 30 seconds when connected to supporting online banking, commerce, and other secure sites: even if someone phishes the connection or executes a man-in-the-middle attack, the connection will become re-encrypted after (at most) 30 seconds. Symantec and Vasco are already rolling out support for the technology.

Intel says OEMs like Dell, Lenovo, Fujitsu, and HP are already gearing up a spate of notebooks, convertible tablets, and desktop systems built around the Intel vPro line. And we bet the company is hoping it won’t have to do a recall on these, too.

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