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3/16/2007
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Intel To Ship A More Secure vPro Business Desktop Platform

The next-generation vPro would have enhanced security within its desktop management capabilities, and introduces Intel's new Trusted Execution Technology.

Intel plans to launch in the second half of the year an upgrade of the vPro business desktop platform that places a heavy emphasis on security.

The chipmaker on Friday said the next-generation vPro would have enhanced security within its desktop management capabilities, and introduces the company's new Trusted Execution Technology, previously code-named LaGrande. The vPro upgrade, which is code-named Weybridge and includes an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, also adds support for industry management standards.

Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) is mostly about offering software developers the option of programming to features in the chipset that protect applications once a virus or other malicious code has invaded a desktop system. The features include booting software into a known, trusted state set when the application is first installed, preventing compromised software from being launched.

TXT also offers assigned memory partitions, so an application can be launched into its own sandbox, inaccessible by other software or hardware. "The application is protected from a virus or hack," said Mike Ferron-Jones, marketing director for Intel's Digital Office Platform.

The third key security feature prevents access to data that's left in memory, a processor cache, or elsewhere in the system when software is closed or crashes. "When software shuts down, [TXT] scrubs all that information out of the system, so it can't be snooped by other software," Ferron-Jones said.

Security features hard-coded into vPro, which means they are automatically deployed, are part of the platform's management capabilities, which Intel calls Active Management Technology. The new features involve the filtering of outbound traffic from a system. If AMT notices an excessive number of new connection attempts from a single port or a group of ports, then the technology isolates the desktop's operating system by dropping all communications with other systems and applications on the network, while maintaining communications with the IT department's management console, such as in Hewlett-Packard's OpenView or IBM Tivoli. This prevents a virus that has reproduced itself in an infected machine from spreading on the network.

On the standards front, the vPro upgrade includes support for Web Services Management, or WS-MAN, and the Desktop Mobile Working Group specification developed under the Distributed Management Task Force. In general, the WS-MAN offers a secure communications channel between the desktop and a management console within a Web services architecture. DMWG 1.0 governs execution of WS-MAN commands inside the desktop.

In the second quarter, Intel plans to release a notebook version of the vPro platform, code-named Santa Rosa. That version, however, will be based on the platform's 2006 technologies, and will not include the new features, Ferron-Jones said.

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