Hands-On With vPro For 2012
Probably the two biggest feature changes in this generation of vPro happen to the display pipeline.
First, the Ivy Bridge architecture adds support for a third display output. Intel now gives vPro the ability to allow that trio of screens to be accessed through the remote management interface. Second, the company adds support for monitors in portrait mode (instead of the standard landscape orientation), even if only one of the three screens is set up that way. Around the offices where I consult, there really are a notable number of users who rotate their screens into portrait mode for working in Word or on certain websites. Likewise, I increasingly see more multi-monitor arrays, particularly as 1920x1080 panels come down in price. Adding support for these additional video modes makes troubleshooting less cumbersome for IT professionals.
In Intel vPro: Three Generations Of Remote Management, we looked at the interaction between vPro and Active Management Technology. This time around, we went so far as to perform a remote BIOS update on our DQ77MK. To accomplish this, we logged into Windows through RealVNC's VNC Viewer Plus.
As you can see, the picture quality is very good. KVM Remote Control supports resolutions as high as 1920x1200 with 16-bit color, so you don't get the graininess you'd expect from some software-based remote management solutions.
From the Windows desktop, I was able to browse to Intel's support site remotely and download the updated BIOS package I needed. Double-clicking the installation unpacks a number of files and reboots the machine. Because KVM Remote works out-of-band, even when I'm looking at a command prompt (out of Windows), the remote display is still very much accessible.
Generally, if we were using an RDP or traditional VNC solution, it'd be very difficult to monitor a process like this remotely. Instead, we're even able to hop in the client system's BIOS and make changes.
You can see that accessing the DQ77MK's UEFI comes complete with mouse support, making navigation even easier. It's as if we're sitting right in front of the machine.
The board's firmware features several security settings that warrant attention, either upon initial setup or shortly thereafter. Use those options to help lock down sensitive components and help prevent unauthorized changes that could either bring an important system down or lead to compromised data.
Beyond jumping onto a remote client through VNC Viewer Plus, Intel also offers a Web-based GUI to control the features of Active Management Technology. This generation, AMT gets incremented to version 8.0, though most features appear similar for the most part.
Logging in to the interface is pretty easy once you enable remote log-in. With the Web service running, navigate to the client machine's IP address on port 16992.
From there, you have access to the features we introduced in last year's exploration of vPro. One that we really like, and want to mention again, is the ability to specify a boot device when the remote system restarts.
This option lets an administrator remotely boot to a recovery image directly from the Web-based interface, saving time/cost on a desk-side visit.