SAN FRANCISCO -- Intel is preparing the second generation of its vPro remote management technology and is promising more goodies in the third generation, which will take advantage of new features and functionality in the new Nehalem family.

vPro is not found in any single component of a computer. It is a combination of processor technologies, hardware enhancements, management and security features for remote PC administration. It allows administrators to access a system regardless of the operating system or whether the computer is on or off.

There are a number of requirements to be classified as a vPro PC, although most of those features are standard these days. They include multi-core processors, Intel Active Management Technology (AMT), remote configuration technology for AMT, wired and wireless network connection, Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) and Intel Virtualization Technology.

vPro is one of those Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) products you don't hear about much, but according to Andy Tryba, director of marketing for the Digital Office Products division, more than 60 percent of the Fortune 100 have deployed and use it.

The new version, due next month, will be for Penryn-based systems. It will be one more generation before vPro is found on Nehalem systems, and Intel has been fairly steady about releasing vPro updates around the September timeframe, said Tryba.

Among the upcoming features in vPro will be the ability to remotely manage an encrypted hard disk. Right now that's not possible, since the computer's user needed to enter the password to let the remote manager in. The next generation will allow for power up and remote management without a password.

Currently, vPro has Cisco's Network Admission Control (NAC) but plans to add Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP) as well, for administering Windows systems from a Server 2008 console.

Security is also enhanced by storing keys and other strong encryption passwords in silicon, not software, since software is the most common target of attack. It's also possible to intercept a password when it is being used in software. So Intel moved it to a harder point to crack, the silicon.

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