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Intel vPro: Three Generations Of Remote Management

Intel vPro: Three Generations Of Remote Management
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It's common to manage PCs remotely in today's business environment. Intel's vPro technology aims to simplify that task by giving IT professionals hardware-level tools to make remote management easier. Today we look at three generations of vPro.

In today’s enterprise environment, desktop management is an area where CIOs are constantly evaluating ways to lower costs. If you look at a typical mid- to large-sized organization, there is usually a mobile sales force and support staff, multiple buildings and locations, and every employee has either a desktop or notebook.

Over the past few years, IT organizations have looked for ways to help combat rising costs associated with managing common IT problems. Although their approaches may differ, the common ideology permeating IT these days is to move service and support away from desk-side visits to save time and money.

Beyond the logistic issues that eat up valuable resources, IT is also constantly contending with security threats and more maintenance-oriented tasks like taking component inventories. Many years ago, Intel conceptualized vPro as a means of simplifying all of those tasks, arming the VARs who help manage SMBs and the dedicated IT departments in larger organizations at the very same time.

Intel’s vPro technology is fairly unique as a set of capabilities that facilitate serviceability and security in end-user computing environments. Given Intel’s position selling CPUs, chipsets, and network controllers, the company is in a unique position to get a number of disparate hardware components working together. Over time, those technologies have evolved to include more advanced controls, which enable some pretty interesting features that we've never seen compared back to back before.

Intel sent over three generations of Intel vPro platforms to show how its business platform has evolved, from the Wolfdale-based Core 2 generation up to the current Sandy Bridge architecture. The economic recession has seen a number of companies shrinking their employee's work spaces, so the microATX form-factor chosen for all three setups is a good way to also facilitate a smaller PC footprint compared to larger ATX boards.

Tom's Hardware Digs Into vPro Technology

First, we'll take a look at the hardware itself before delving into the successive capabilities introduced by vPro itself.

One thing is for sure: Intel clearly intends vPro technology to be as usable in the enterprise space as it is in small- and medium-sized businesses. With that said, the feature set of Intel vPro might even appeal to anyone who wants to manage a family member's PC from afar due to inclusions like the Intel KVM found in its Clarkdale and Sandy Bridge vPro generations.

Display 21 Comments.
  • 7 Hide
    cngledad , September 27, 2011 6:37 AM
    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.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , September 27, 2011 11:43 AM
    ^^Don't forget Logmein Rescue which has vPro support.
  • -4 Hide
    pro-gamer , September 27, 2011 1:17 PM
    intel man please give me a job.
    Intels rock
  • 0 Hide
    NirXY , September 27, 2011 8:53 PM
    Glad to see you made it to publish day, was waiting for this piece.
    Looking great !
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 27, 2011 10:28 PM
    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 Hide
    jhansonxi , September 27, 2011 10:44 PM
    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.
  • 1 Hide
    extremepcs , September 28, 2011 9:09 AM
    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 Hide
    chovav , September 28, 2011 9:20 AM
    If my hard drive is encrypted using TrueCrypt pre-boot authentication, would I be able to fill in the password using Intels vPro?
  • 0 Hide
    jowunger , September 28, 2011 1:29 PM
    The voice of the guy in the video is bad. The guy talks like he is speedreading a book...
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , September 28, 2011 6:02 PM
    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!
  • 0 Hide
    chovav , September 29, 2011 2:10 PM
    Chris can you answer my question?
  • 0 Hide
    pjkenned , September 30, 2011 3:44 PM
    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 Hide
    kevikom , October 10, 2011 11:13 AM
    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 Hide
    dj christian , November 11, 2011 4:56 AM
    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?

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 2, 2012 8:10 AM
    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 Hide
    omerl , January 29, 2012 7:49 PM
    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.

  • 1 Hide
    omerl , February 14, 2012 8:18 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    omerl , March 21, 2012 12:37 PM
    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 Hide
    masi87 , August 10, 2012 6:19 PM
    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 Hide
    michealPW , August 11, 2012 7:09 PM
    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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