Intel unveils fifth-generation vPro CPU, dreams of a wireless workplace

Looking to strike a cord for business

Everybody knows that in business, time is money, a message that Intel spent almost two hours communicating at the launch of its fifth-generation vPro processor in London.

The latest version of the chipmaker's business-focused CPU aims to deliver the company's vision of a no-wire workplace, where employees can connect laptops and tablets to displays and projectors without wasting time fiddling with cables and dongles.

Intel Pro WiDi is the technology that lies at the heart of this vision. It allows content to be beamed from vPro-powered devices to HDMI-equipped TVs and monitors using a compatible adapter, the first of which is being launched by California-based Actiontec -- and Intel says that third-party alternatives are on the way.

Cutting wires and costs

Speaking at the launch, head of Intel's Business Client Platforms group, Tom Garrison, noted how vPro's wireless capabilities can allow businesses to take advantage of the increasingly common trend of downsizing to cut costs on office real-estate.

He said: "Initially the motivations around workplace transformation was real-estate savings, getting them into smaller and more confined areas to save on costs, but one of the side benefits of that was around collaboration and creativity.

"[vPro] allows you to capitalise on those savings -- not only in having multiple employees using a singe workspace -- but also saving cost on docks. Until recently you would might have a dock from one OEM, and then a second docking solution from another OEM. Multiple docks would have been cost prohibitive, so this enables IT to deploy a single solution."

In a video that began to roll, one HP executive estimated that the company could save half a billion dollars on the back of employee productivity gained per year.

Slimmer devices

WiDi aside, other vPro benefits mirror the advantages seen in consumer laptops housing Intel's fifth-generation Core-M CPU -- namely slimmer and lighter devices with longer battery life.

Garrison showed off four of them, with each one demonstrating a particular advantages introduced by fifth-generation vPro -- including HP's "thin and light" Elitebook 1020 and HP Elite X2 convertibles -- in addition to Lenovo's Helix 2-in-1 which offers up to eight or 12 hours of battery life depending whether used in tablet or laptop mode.

Intel now claims to have shipped more than 100 million vPro-powered devices, something that Garrison said should give developers and ISVs (independent software vendors) confidence that their applications will be optimised with vPro-enabled devices.

Additional savings could be found in the costs saved from managing such a number of devices, he added, particularly in instances where enterprises are deploying anything from 50 to 160,000 clients at a particular time.