Intel Unveils Sixth-Gen vPro Chips, New Security Solution

Chip maker introduces new multi-factor security tool baked into the silicon called Intel Authenticate.

Intel Authenticate

When Intel announces a new generation of processors, it's certainly news in the tech world. But when it also unveils its own functionality to run inside those chips, then the news becomes multi-dimensional and relevant to a lot more enterprises.

The world's largest computer-processor maker on Jan. 19 made generally available its sixth-generation Intel Core vPro processor lineup. It also previewed a new security feature baked into the silicon it calls Intel Authenticate, which will be made available immediately for businesses to begin internal testing and qualifying.

Intel Authenticate is the company's first hardware-enhanced, multifactor authentication solution that strengthens identity protection on the PC, making it less vulnerable to identity and security credential attacks.

The main news, certainly, was about the new line of processors, which soon will be reporting to circuit boards inside Windows laptop, desktop, tablet and convertible PCs made by HP Inc., Dell, Acer, Asus, Panasonic, Fujitsu, Lenovo and Toshiba.

New vPro Chips Made for Multiple Devices

Intel Vice President Tom Garrison told a San Francisco news conference that this latest iteration of vPro processors clearly addresses the security and productivity demands of large businesses with improvements in authentication security (see Authenticate above), better performance and collaboration.

"The value you see in the sixth-generation vPro chips spans the gamut for platforms," Garrison, whose full title is VP/General Manager for the Intel Business Client division, told reporters. "The strategy is to deliver choice; we want you to have the right device for the job. Just a few years ago, the process was for IT to pick just one or two platforms—maybe one or two notebook machines and one desktop machines. As an employee, you were just issued your device.

"But with the sixth-generation platform you have common architecture that can span all of these different form factors, giving enterprises a lot more choices for improving an individual's productivity."

Garrison said that Intel has seen a record 200 Intel Core business device designs, across all the company's OEM partners, now going into production. He also said that there are more than 100 vPro business devices being designed, also a record.

At the news conference, Garrison held up examples of ultra-thin notebooks from Dell, HPI and Lenovo, in addition to HP's new EliteDesk, a very small desktop PC that can be tucked behind a monitor and hardly be seen at all. All will be using sixth-gen vPro chipsets this year.

Intel's Home-Developed Security Solution

Intel owns the old McAfee security franchise, now simply called Intel Security. It's pretty obvious that new security solutions are needed from all corners of the tech world in order to stop the overpowering nation-states, organized crime hackers and nasty individuals that have proven to be the scourge of business for the last decade or more.

To address this, Intel is previewing Intel Authenticate, which verifies identities by using a combination of up to three hardened factors at the same time: "something you know," such as a personal identification number; "something you have," including a mobile phone; and "something you are," such as a fingerprint.

IT can choose from multiple hardened factors of authentication that are based on company policies, and no longer has to rely solely on employees remembering passwords. Intel Authenticate is compatible with Microsoft Windows 7, 8 and 10, and is available now for customers to preview.

For industry analyst Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights and Strategy, the security announcement was the most important news from the press conference.

"My biggest takeaway is that Intel is enabling for the first time, hardware-based, MFA," Moorhead told eWEEK. "This is a big deal because when it comes to client device intrusion, stealing credentials is the most prolific ways hackers get in. If Intel can get the ecosystem and enterprises to use this, it would be huge."

Major Manufacturers Now Building PCs with New vChips

Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba are all releasing enterprise-ready devices featuring the new vPro processors, Garrison said. Enterprise buyers can choose from a variety of designs including 2-in-1s, Ultrabooks, ultra-thin clamshells, mini PCs and all-in-one desktops.

Intel also introduced updates to its Unite collaboration service, which competes with better-known services that include Webex and GoToMeeting.

Unite now includes extended display capabilities so meeting participants no longer need to search for the right adapter or dongle. Both onsite and remote attendees can more easily and securely view and interact with content in real time. Employees can instantly start meetings using new or existing displays or projectors. Auto-disconnect and integration of Skype for Business offer customers a seamless meeting experience.

Finally, for small businesses, Intel is now offering Intel Small Business Advantage, an easy-to-use solution to help small business owners protect and grow their companies.

The software package provides small business owners with a centralized way to connect and share information coupled with automatic security and maintenance updates. Intel SBA includes collaboration features, such as chat and file share, coupled with security capabilities—such as a USB port blocker—to help keep small business owners in control of their data.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...