Earlier this month Intel unveiled their Core vPro enterprise processors with Ivy Bridge architecture. Intel, who last year acquired McAfee for its security expertise, have embedded security and threat management features into the hardware of the vPro processors. With features like Identity Protection Technology for adding a second layer of user authentication and Active Management Technology for remotely managing PC activities and fixing glitches these processors are quite clearly aimed at business users.
The third-gen vPros offer support for up to three external displays and enable HD video conferencing but the two features that we think will be most relevant to business are Intel® AES New Instructions and the Hardware-Assisted Virtualisation Technology
Hardware-Assisted Virtualisation – Desktop virtualisation can improve IT security, management, and control, while reducing complexity, vPro processors include support for hardware-based security and manageability to help improve the ability to manage and secure remote desktops and laptops.
AES New Instructions – With recent advancements in cloud computing, where personal or business-critical information leaves the traditional IT environment, a more widely usable and secure encryption standard such as AES and acceleration mechanism like Intel® AES-NI are essential.
What are the benefits of the new processors for business users?
Business users must be able to check emails, manage appointments, create documents, use spreadsheets, process data, crunch numbers, access the internet and often quickly switch between each of these tasks. A fast CPU is essential for multi-tasking when a variety of applications must be opened at once. The 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ Processor family offers overall performance about 20% better than the last generation (Sandy Bridge). Whilst this on its own is great news for business users, where the new Intel processors really pack a punch is with the graphics.
Intel promises that you’ll be able to play current high-end PC games without needing a separate Nvidia or AMD GPU but what do the improved graphics mean for business users?
Intel’s new HD 4000 replaces the current HD 3000, and whilst this will definitely be fantastic for gaming, especially in 3D, Intel recognise that most hard core gamers will still use discrete graphics, so why the continued focus? The truth is that everything is becoming more graphics intensive, including day to day business tasks. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome are all making moves to improve performance of the graphics elements of HTML and we can’t forget the importance of Windows 8, which could potentially be fairly graphics intensive, for the 64-bit edition at least.
What else is new with Ivy Bridge?
USB 3.0: Built into Ivy Bridge silicon–the first time Intel is doing this, so USB 3.0 should become universal. Market researcher In-Stat has forecast that 400 million USB 3.0-enabled devices will ship in 2012.
OpenCL 1.1 and DirectX 11: Intel will support OpenCL for the first time in the chip’s graphics component and DirectX 11 will also be supported for the first time.
Power consumption is another area of improvement, so you should see much lower rates during average use.
What are the options for upgrading?
The Ivy Bridge line-up consists of a range of different processors for PCs and laptops. Initially there’s only Core i5 and Core i7 variations, the cheaper lower-end Core i3 processors will be released later this year. The processor is compatible with the existing LGA1155 socket used by Sandy Bridge, making for an easy swap. The 2012 Ivy Bridge (or third-generation) processors can be easily recognised because they all have a part number that begins with the number 3.