PC makers are making management decisions when it comes to building new desktops around Intel Corp.s latest business PC platform.
Starting on Thursday, two of the three largest business PC makers will tout desktops based on Intels Professional Business Platform 2005 hardware, a new chip bundle centered on the Intel Extreme 945X chip set, as part of their latest model lines. But they will leave off Intels Active Management Technology, a new management engine that works with consoles such as Computer Associates International Inc.s Unicenter to show PCs hardware assets and load software patches, at least at first.
The Professional Business Platform, which Intel created to be the backbone of corporate desktops, made its debut Thursday along with the 945X chip set and dual-core Pentium D processors. But where Hewlett-Packard Co. chose to offer business platform PCs with the chip set, it worked to beef up security in its desktops rather than add the management technology to them.
HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., chose to add a Trusted Platform Module, which meets the Trusted Computing Groups TPM 1.2 specification, in its desktops instead of using Active Management. The company will still technically offer Professional Business Platform desktops—the platform dictates using one of several Pentium 4 600 series processors and the 945G, a version of the 945X chip set with either built-in graphics or an Intel Pro/1000M Gigabit Ethernet adapter, or both—but HP left off the adapter, which incorporates Active Management Technology. HP is using a Broadcom Corp. Gigabit Ethernet adapter, which incorporates the TPM, instead.
Facing the need to differentiate its products and accommodate customer needs in the cutthroat business desktop market, an HP executive said the company simply saw more demand for PCs with improved security than those with enhanced management offered by Intels AMT.
“We havent seen, at least initially, customer interest in [active management],” said Brian Schmitz, worldwide product marketing manager for HPs business desktops. “We looked at the options we had. The one that had a lot more benefit, it seemed to us, was the embedded security.”
Still, the decision doesnt mean HP wont offer the technology in the future. Schmitz said HP would “absolutely” offer Active Management “if we see the interest among customers build around it.”
HP on Thursday launched its HP Compaq dc7600 Business Desktop PC, which is available in a range of configurations with both single-core Pentium 4 and dual-core Pentium D processors. Available now, it starts at $564, HP officials said in a statement.
Lenovo Group Ltd. will not immediately offer Active Management in its latest desktops. It plans to ship two new desktops, the ThinkCentre M52 and ThinkCentre A52, this summer. It will add Active Management Technology starting in the third quarter, a company representative said.
Dell Inc., of Round Rock, Texas, has not yet announced any specific plans to adopt the Professional Business Platform. Although its expected to offer the new Intel chips in future OptiPlex corporate desktops, its still evaluating the Active Management Technology.
“Customers tell us that they want industry-standard solutions that make management as easy and cost-effective as possible. Today we offer a complete line of OpenManage products that scale from the front office to the back office and offer customers the value-based solutions they need. We are evaluating Active Management Technology to see how it fits in the systems management framework for our customers,” a Dell spokesperson said in an e-mail.
The Professional Business Platform, for its part, is the first in a series of annual business desktop PC refreshes Intel will offer with the aim of adding features that meet the broad needs of corporations. The company aims to add embedded management and security technology, for example.
Intel, which intends to roll out a new version of its Professional Business Platform for desktops once per year going forward, is also using the platform approach to add to its share of the bill of materials for a corporate desktop. PC makers such as HP use huge numbers of Intel processors and chip sets. But the platform strategy attempts to sell them even more parts.
So far the bundling approach has been hit-and-miss for Intel. One attempt, a 2004 effort to turn consumer and SMB (small and midsize business) desktop PCs into wireless hubs, never got off the ground. But Intels Centrino chip bundle for wireless notebooks has been widely adopted.
Even so, most notebook makers still offer customers some choices. HP offers a choice of Intel or Broadcom Wi-Fi modules. The module represents the third piece of the puzzle when it comes to Centrino. By Intels rules, a notebook must have an Intel Pentium M processor, a specific Intel chip set and one of several Intel Pro wireless modules to be marketed under the Centrino name.
Still, Intels Intel Express 945X and dual-core Pentium D chips are certain to see wide adoption among businesses. HP and others will offer the 945 chip set as well as Intels Pentium D in various business desktop models, company officials have said.
Additional reporting by eWEEKs Jeffrey Burt.