SAN FRANCISCO--Intel hopes its new VPro brand for business desktop PCs makes IT managers think about security and manageability the same way Centrino made people think of wireless technology.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini introduced the new VPro brand on Monday at a press conference here at the Ritz-Carlton. VPro stickers will start appearing over the next few months on PCs that contain Intel's Conroe processor, a new chipset and an Intel networking chip, Otellini said.
VPro is the latest example of Intel's platform strategy, in which the company is trying to attach its name to features of PCs, rather than just focusing on the raw performance of its processors. Centrino was the first example of this strategy, which combined a processor, mobile chipset and a wireless chip under a single umbrella brand. Viiv, for home entertainment PCs, was the second.
Intel likes to emphasize features such as battery life and wireless connectivity with Centrino, and it plans to focus on security and manageability with VPro, Otellini said. VPro PCs come with two features called Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) and Intel Virtualization Technology (VT).
AMT allows IT managers to cut back on the number of problems that can be solved only by a visit to a user's PC, which accounts for a disproportionately large share of IT costs, Otellini said. VT offers hardware support for virtualization software that can divide a PC into two separate partitions. This lets IT managers create secure portions of their PCs, he said.
Intel and its usual partners in the PC community plan to ship "seed units" with the VPro brand to some customers during the current quarter, Otellini said. A wider launch of Conroe and VPro is not expected until the third quarter.
VPro is designed for IT managers who are trying to squeeze costs out of their organizations, Otellini said. "Hardware costs used to be equal to four years of support costs. Now the support costs are twice the cost of the hardware," he said.
Small businesses that can't afford to maintain their own IT departments will be able to take advantage of remote services from outsourcing companies, said Gregory Bryant, general manager of the Digital Office platforms group. They can do this today, but the technology in VPro makes it much easier for both the service provider and the customer, he said. "This platform makes having IT services for small businesses practical for the first time."
IT managers also are worried about energy efficiency, especially at companies using hundreds of thousands of PCs, Otellini said. VPro takes advantage of the Core architecture's power efficiency to improve the performance per watt of power consumed by up to four times over Intel's Pentium 4 processor, he said.
Early next year, Intel will start to incorporate the VPro technology into notebooks, Otellini said. Over time, the company plans to virtualize other parts of a PC, such as the I/O chip and the hard drive, he said.
VPro will receive a characteristically heavy marketing push from Intel, but the effort won't be nearly as big as Centrino, said Tom Kilroy, vice president and general manager of the digital enterprise group.
PC companies and end users can assemble many of these capabilities by themselves or through other hardware providers, but Intel believes it has an advantage in that it has designed the processor, chipset and networking chip in concert to work closely together, Bryant said.