Intel is preparing the second version of its vPro business desktop chipset for delivery in the second half of the year, promising to bake in more security features.
The first version of vPro was launched in September with support from partners Symantec, Altiris and others.
According to Mike Ferron-Jones, director of marketing in Intel's digital office platforms division, the next generation of vPro, code-named Weybridge, will be based on Intel's Core 2 Duo Processor E6x50 and Q35 Express Chipset, and will be backward compatible with the vPro sold today.
Like today's vPro, Weybridge will allow chip-based firewall filtering and remote management. But the management technology will be based on a new specification soon to be announced by the Desktop Mobile Working Group as well as the industry standard called Web Services Management.
Weybridge's built-in firewall will also come preprogrammed to monitor outbound traffic to recognise abnormal patterns that suggest virus or worm activity.
"We'll add some pre-configured programming for rudimentary filtering that's helpful in preventing worm or virus attacks," said Ferron-Jones, noting there will be options to generate alerts to management consoles or cut off network access of infected machines. Systems administrators can deactivate the feature if they don't want it. In the current version of vPro, setting firewall filters is wholly based on third-party applications.
Weybridge will also be able to make use of what Intel calls its Trusted Execution Technology, a way to measure software through cryptographic hash algorithms that produce a kind of digital fingerprint to check its veracity. Intel referred to this capability in the past by the code-name LaGrande.
The Trusted Execution Technology in the next-generation vPro will be able to carry out this hash-based software measurement by working in conjunction with desktops using the microcontroller Trusted Platform Module Version 1.2 designed under the aegis of the industry-standards organisation Trusted Computing Group.
Ferron-Jones says Intel's focus in developing the Trusted Execution Technology was primarily to prevent rootkits from compromising virtual-machine software, such as those from Microsoft, VMware and Parallels. These virtual-machine monitors allow what the industry calls multiple virtual appliances to work on the operating system.
"We want to prevent attacks to compromise the virtual-machine monitor," said Ferron-Jones.
While Intel didn't release exact sales figures for the first vPro that shipped last September, Ferron-Jones says it's being well-received, with customers that include BMW , EDS and ING .
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