Intel to release new management technology

By the end of May, Intel Corp. will release a new chipset and network adapter for business PC users that brings several new IT management technologies into the PC world, according to company executives.

Intel was expected to announce that the Intel 945G chipset and the Intel Pro/1000 PM networking chip will begin to ship in PCs by the end of the month. The new products will allow for the introduction of technologies such as Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) and will fit into Intel’s Stable Image Platform Program (SIPP), said Mike Ferron-Jones, marketing director of Intel’s business clients group, in an interview this week.

The new features are all part of Intel’s new strategy of emphasizing other aspects of system performance rather than just raw processing power. A new organizational structure has also refocused the Santa Clara, California, company on delivering specific products for specific users, such as pitching certain features to business PC users and other features to home users.

Intel’s AMT technology is designed to let IT administrators access a protected portion of the PC in order to install software updates, run diagnostic programs, or take inventory of their systems even if the PC is not turned on, Ferron-Jones said. PC buyers will need to make sure they purchase a system with the Pro/1000 PM network adapter in order to use this capability, he said.

Also, new PCs with the 945G chipset will now become part of SIPP, which is intended to help IT managers avoid having to change their software images or manage a network of PCs with several different image types, Ferron-Jones said. A software image is a standardized set of applications that businesses roll out to their PCs.

Under the program, Intel guarantees that IT departments that buy PCs based on a certain platform, or combination of components, will not have to update their software images because of hardware changes to that platform for at least 12 months. Also, the company ensures that it will continue to ship those components for at least 12 months.

Intel’s 600 series Pentium 4 processors were introduced earlier this year in the middle of Intel’s 12-month cycle of desktop product announcements, which typically occur around the end of the second quarter, Ferron-Jones said. Therefore, the company waited until the new chipsets were ready before including the processors in SIPP, he said.

One technology that won’t be coming to the mainstream business segment just yet is dual-core, Ferron-Jones said. Intel believes that the home user is much more likely to need the multitasking performance provided by the Pentium D, Intel’s first dual-core desktop processor scheduled for release later this month, he said.

Home users are more likely to be running multimedia applications that can take advantage of the parallelism of dual-core chips, Ferron-Jones said. Also, business customers prefer to spend a longer period of time evaluating new features and technologies on products they will buy in bulk, he said.

Therefore, dual-core chips will not enter SIPP once they are released in May, Ferron-Jones said. Intel recommends that its business PC customers select the new combination of the Pentium 4 600 series chips, 945G chipset, and Pro/1000 PM network adapter if they are looking to upgrade their PCs this year, he said.

Most PCs with that combination will cost between US$800 and $1,000, Ferron-Jones said. The usual cadre of PC vendors will have systems ready by the end of May, he said, declining to provide more details about specific systems from vendors such as Dell Inc. or Hewlett-Packard Co.

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