Intel touts security with second-gen VPro PCs

Company will release its "LaGrande" security technology later this year with the launch of second-generation VPro business desktop technology.

Intel will release its "LaGrande" security technology in the second half of the year with the launch of its second-generation VPro business desktop technology.

The first generation of VPro-branded PCs--computers designed to be easy to manage and less susceptible to network attacks--went on sale in 2006. VPro, along with Centrino for mobile PCs and Viiv for home entertainment PCs, is a "platform" brand Intel uses to cover product bundles including processors, chipsets and network technology.

Not all PCs businesses buy are VPro models, but most corporate pilot projects lead to more widespread use, said Mike Ferron-Jones, director of Intel's digital office platform marketing. "We're positioning VPro as a step above your ordinary business PC," he said.

One major feature in the second-generation VPro, code-named Weybridge, is a security technology code-named LaGrande Technology (LT) and now formally bearing the name Trusted Execution Technology (TXT). Intel began touting LaGrande in 2002.

Security is a major issue for administrators at large corporations who have had to reckon with worms and viruses that would spread like wildfire from one computer to another. Such attacks have died down since the years of LaGrande's inception, though some risk remains. LaGrande can help curtail other security risks as well, Ferron-Jones said.

TXT has three components, Ferron-Jones said. First, it stores the digital fingerprints of software in a protected region called the trusted platform module; every time the software is run, it checks to make sure the software still matches that fingerprint to see that it hasn't been compromised. Second, it walls off an application's memory so that other applications, operating systems or hardware can't change it. And third, if an application crashes or is crashed, TXT scrubs its data from memory and chip caches so attack software can't snoop for residual data.

Another security feature is a new version of Intel Active Management Technology that can nip worm propagation in the bud. The current VPro systems must be programmed by a third party, but Intel will build into the second version some basic abilities to detect suspicious network traffic so that potentially infected PCs can be isolated from corporate networks, Ferron-Jones said.

"Every customer who buys the Weybridge platform will be able to get a baseline of filtering," he said.

Another new feature in the Weybridge version of VPro will be support for two new remote management standards, one called Web Services Management and another from a committee called the Desktop Mobile Working Group.

Weybridge will debut in desktop PCs in the second half of 2007. For mobile PCs, the first-generation VPro will arrive in Intel's "Santa Rosa" version of Centrino in the second quarter of 2006, and the second-generation will arrive in 2008, Ferron-Jones said.

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