Intel has officially announced its 5th Generation Core vPro platform for business systems, introducing the first of several technologies that eventually promise to dispense completely with the need for cables in a bid to make workers more mobile and productive.
Launched at an event in London attended by V3, the latest Core vPro platform is based on the Broadwell 5th Generation Core chips that Intel unveiled at CES, but with the additional security and management capabilities of vPro embedded in the chipset for enterprise customers.
Because of this, many of the systems launched since CES are available immediately in Core vPro versions, including Lenovo's latest ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook and HP's Elite x2 1011 two-in-one laptop/tablet hybrid.
With Core vPro, Intel said it is looking to free up workers by cutting the cables traditionally needed even with the most mobile systems in the past.
This revolves around three key capabilities: wireless display, docking and charging. Only the first two are implemented in this Core vPro generation, with wireless charging coming in the future.
"Enterprises are asking how they can create an environment that gives them an advantage. They want to enable employees to be able to work where they need to, whether that is at different places in their own offices, or at a client's site," said Tom Garrison, Intel's vice president and general manager for business client platforms.
With this in mind, a Core vPro system purchased today will deliver 2.5 times the performance and three times the battery life of a typical corporate laptop from about four years ago, while the new platform enables much thinner devices and a wider variety of form factors, Garrison claimed.
The wireless display technology, known as Pro WiDi, enables a laptop to connect to a projector or screen using a peer-to-peer WiFi connection. It differs from the consumer WiDi in offering better quality of service for congested wireless environments, plus security and management features.
Currently, Pro WiDi requires a receiver dongle to drive the projector or display, but vendors such as Panasonic said they are integrating the receiver circuitry into future business projectors.
Meanwhile, the wireless docking capability is enabled by the integration of the WiGig wireless standard into Core vPro. This delivers a high-speed connection over distances of a few feet, and has ready-defined protocols for port forwarding.
One advantage of using WiGig is that a wireless dock from any vendor should work with any Core vPro laptop, in contrast to physical desktop docks that usually work only with each vendor's own systems.
This makes it simpler for businesses to fit every desk with a wireless dock, Intel said, even if they have a variety of laptops in use by workers.
Intel's implementation enables wireless docks with USB and Ethernet ports and up to two display outputs, the latter capable of delivering 4K display resolution, and is designed so that an authorised user's laptop will be detected and connected as soon as they come within range.
The latest version of Intel's Setup and Configuration Software (Intel SCS) for vPro has features to enable administrators to manage and configure wireless docks, Intel said.
Although not implemented in the current Core vPro generation, Intel used the launch to shed light on the wireless charging technology it is developing for laptops and other portable systems.
This is based on the Rezence standard for magnetic resonance charging, which does not require precise alignment to function. The upshot of this is that a charging mat can be mounted under a desk and wirelessly charge any laptop placed on the desk surface above.
It will require vendors to equip laptops with an internal inductive resonance loop to feed charge to the battery via the voltage regulator.
"There's huge demand for this, and we have a fantastic opportunity here to create a global standard, so travellers won't have to face the problems they do now with different power sockets in different countries," said Brian O'Regan, enterprise solution architect at Intel.
The 5th Generation Core vPro platform comprises the Broadwell Core vPro processors, Intel Tri-Band Wireless-AC 17265 network adapter and Intel Solid State Drive Pro 2500 Series flash drives.
Also part of the platform is the Intel Wireless Gigabit Sync 13100 module that goes inside wireless dock devices.
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