Intel Pushes Wireless Computing With Latest vPro Chips

The new Core vPro processors for business computers come with wire-free features, such as Intel's Pro WiDi and Wireless Docking technologies.

Intel chip

Intel executives last year began talking about their vision of wire-free computing, in which everything from the connection to the Internet and peripherals to charging would no longer require cables.

Company officials said Jan. 29 that Intel has made a strong step in that direction with the launch of its 5th Generation Core vPro processors, which include several wireless technologies to let notebooks easily connect to displays and peripherals.

The chips, aimed at business systems, also include integrated security, improved performance, longer battery life, easier manageability and better graphics, according to Intel officials at a Webcast event in London.

They also said there was broad range of systems available now from a dozen OEMs—including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Panasonic—that come in an array of form factors, including clamshells, two-in-ones, Ultrabooks and mini-PCs. Tom Garrison, general manager of business client platforms for Intel, said during the event that the longer battery life—up to 16 hours in a new Toshiba system, and 12 hours in a new Helix notebook from Lenovo—are part of the wireless vision.

With such long battery life, "you don't need to be tethered to your power cable," Garrison said.

Intel officials have been vocal over the past few months about the need for wireless computing. During the Intel Developer Forum in September 2014, Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the chip maker's PC Client Group, paced the stage holding up what he called a "rat's nest of cables" that PC users need. Skaugen said the upcoming release of Intel's 14-nanometer "Skylake" processors later this year will help usher in the era of wire-free computing.

Officials have talked about Intel's embrace of the WiGig wireless technology—which is faster than traditional WiFi—and its work with the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) industry consortium that is developing the Rezence standard for wire-free device charging.

However, with the introduction of the wireless capabilities within the new vPro processors, Intel has made "our first step along the journey [to] a no-wire workplace," Garrisons said.

He argued that businesses worldwide have lost billions of dollars due to reduced productivity just in the five to six minutes it takes employees to find and attach various cables needed to get meetings up and running. Without the need to wrestle with cables, those minutes could be spent more productively, he said.

The new vPro chips support Intel's Pro Wireless Display (Pro WiDi) technology, which enables notebooks to connect wireless devices to displays via a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) adapter. Actiontec Electronics, which builds a range of broadband-powered products, announced in conjunction with Intel's announcement its ScreenBeam Pro Business Edition wireless display receiver for Pro WiDi. Garrison also said that Panasonic plans to integrate the Pro WiDi technology into its projectors.