Intel vPro: Three Generations Of Remote Management

Intel Core i5-670 And DQ57TM: The Clarkdale Generation

When Intel launched its Clarkdale-based CPUs in the first quarter of 2010, it marked a major architectural shift for business PCs. The dual-core CPU was manufactured using a 32 nm process, while the GPU, memory controller, and a 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 controller (all formerly found in the chipset northbridge), were etched on a 45 nm process and added to the CPU package.

While the improved graphics engine paved the way for lower overall power consumption, Intel also made big changes to the processor's execution cores using its Nehalem architecture. Furthermore, the Core i5 models featured one notable feature that was sure to interest organizations concerned about security: AES-NI. Accelerated AES encryption and decryption allowed apps that recognized it to take advantage of a handful of instructions that offloaded what was once a significant software-based workload to hardware. This made it possible for IT managers to turn on hard drive encryption without a significant performance impact using standard like BitLocker and McAfee Endpoint Encryption. Having seen colleagues get their notebooks stolen and after responding to PCs being stolen from the headquarters of a large multi-national corporation, it's quite clear that drive encryption should be a mandatory security precaution on any PC with sensitive business information.

Accompanying the Core i5-670 was Intel's DQ57TM motherboard. Like the DQ45CB, the DQ57TM shares a similar footprint and expansion slot layout.

By default, the DQ57TM supports Intel's AMT 6.0. Compared to the previous generation, AMT 6.0 added Intel KVM Remote Control support, while version 6.1 added additional KVM resolutions. As we'll see later in this story, inclusion of KVM and IDE-R (IDE redirection) is a major feature set enhancement. Although Intel clearly intends these technologies to help in the enterprise segment where techs are already overextended, it's equally useful to service providers managing SMBs remotely. The power to respond almost immediately to a call for help from a business owner without his own IT department gets that customer one step closer to the experience an enterprise-based employee would see.

The Q57 platform generation was the first time I saw hardware-based KVM-over-IP used in a home setting to remotely troubleshoot PCs. One could also use the technology to monitor child computer usage, since it facilitates remote desktop viewing without any installed software.

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21 comments
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  • cngledad
    Can I suggest an article comparing different remote access tools we can use? From the freeware TeamViewer, VNC Viewer to such things like WebEx? I think that would be a very good topic.
    7
  • Anonymous
    ^^Don't forget Logmein Rescue which has vPro support.
    3
  • pro-gamer
    intel man please give me a job.
    Intels rock
    -4
  • NirXY
    Glad to see you made it to publish day, was waiting for this piece.
    Looking great !
    0
  • Anonymous
    One correction: DQ57TM *does* contain a v1.2 TPM, the same as found on DQ67SW and DQ67EP. It's required to be vPro compliant (necessary for Intel TXT).
    0
  • jhansonxi
    Nifty but I don't like the single-vendor lock-in. I can see real improvements in IT efficiency if this was combined with AoE. Would like to see SSH support, however.
    0
  • extremepcs
    Hopefully they have improved the activation mechanism. Kind of a PITA if you don't buy a certificate from a trusted CA. I used an internal cert and had to activate each machine by booting from a flash drive.
    1
  • chovav
    If my hard drive is encrypted using TrueCrypt pre-boot authentication, would I be able to fill in the password using Intels vPro?
    1
  • jowunger
    The voice of the guy in the video is bad. The guy talks like he is speedreading a book...
    0
  • cangelini
    cdw-vproOne correction: DQ57TM *does* contain a v1.2 TPM, the same as found on DQ67SW and DQ67EP. It's required to be vPro compliant (necessary for Intel TXT).


    Fixed, thanks!
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  • chovav
    Chris can you answer my question?
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  • pjkenned
    chovavIf my hard drive is encrypted using TrueCrypt pre-boot authentication, would I be able to fill in the password using Intels vPro?


    Generally you don't want to do this. Pre-boot authentication on encrypted drives is a security measure so that someone gaining access to a shut-down PC cannot cold boot onto the contents of the disk. For example, one shuts down a notebook that is subsequently stolen in an airport.

    In that scenario (actually fairly common) the user that now has the notebook can boot to the contents of the disk if a password was pre-filled.
    0
  • kevikom
    HP insight manager is better. Weird thing is I found out about it from a whitepaper on Dells site. I thought HP and Dell hated each other?? but we use it for PCs, servers, and it has a plugin for Vmware.... AND IT IS FREE.
    0
  • dj christian
    pjkennedFor example, one shuts down a notebook that is subsequently stolen in an airport. In that scenario (actually fairly common) the user that now has the notebook can boot to the contents of the disk if a password was pre-filled.


    So you saying that's a bad idea for the owner that he typed the pre-filled the password using vPro?
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  • Anonymous
    Hi, does anybody know if Intel Dq67sw motherboard Support 8Gb ddr3 Single Modules . Because Intel Technical product specification states " Support for 32GB of System Memory with four DIMMS using 4GB memory technology ".

    Are there any other Intel boards which support vPro ( VT-X , VT-D ) with 32GB for i7 2nd Generation.

    As i want to build one myself for VM.
    0
  • omerl
    pjkennedGenerally you don't want to do this. Pre-boot authentication on encrypted drives is a security measure so that someone gaining access to a shut-down PC cannot cold boot onto the contents of the disk. For example, one shuts down a notebook that is subsequently stolen in an airport. In that scenario (actually fairly common) the user that now has the notebook can boot to the contents of the disk if a password was pre-filled.

    dj christianSo you saying that's a bad idea for the owner that he typed the pre-filled the password using vPro?


    Chovav, pjkenned and dj christian - yes, you can use Intel vPro AMT to fill the Pre-Boot Authentication. You can do this either with AMT KVM (which is the simple way, but requires AMT 6 and above) or with AMT SOL (assuming TrueCrypt allows SOL.
    pjkenned - there are several scenarios which it would makes much sense to send the password for PBA remotely: 1. Support agent trying to recover a user's password. 2. Trying to boot to a computer you left in the office. The idea is not that the password is pre-filled, it is filled on real-time.
    It's actually can be a very powerful tool for the service-desk at your organization.
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  • omerl
    qwer5678So you saying that's a bad idea for the owner that he typed the pre-filled the password using vPro?

    I didn't really understand what you mean. If you utilize this feature correctly you can gain real value to your organization. Note my 2 suggestion of usage. If you have it kept in a DB or something similar, you must make sure this DB is encrypted and secured properly, since this is sensitive information, but you can still get it and send it to your computer using vPro encrypted over TLS/SSL channel.
    1
  • omerl
    okokpkpk - I'm saying DO NOT PRE-FILL THE PASSWORD. This is not what's vPro is all about.
    I'm saying, create a solution for your organization that allow real time password push to your clients, in case a password is forgotten. Passwords are stored securely inside the organization and are only used in case of password forgotten. Nothing else. Do no bypass the pre-boot authentication mechanism.
    0
  • masi87
    Why does noboy complain about the missing SSL for the logon page of the Web-Interface? (even thought not only logon but everything after that should also be encrypted to prevent cookie theft).
    0
  • michealPW
    I'm not sure what's more unsettling... The fact that this technology's being rolled out in so many mainstream Intel CPUs and Chipsets or the fact that I seem to be the only one that sees this as a major attack vector :|

    Good gawd what a frightening world we're marching into. Security and Privacy is becoming an unattainable dream.
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